Milliner Stephen Jones is sitting at L’Avenue, the unofficial Dior staff canteen, having a gin and tonic with his back to Rue Montaigne and the Mothership. Looking over his shoulder, he points to his studio in between Baby Dior and Dior Joaillerie. Here’s the space where Jones created the cones, globes, moons and assorted objects that made up the hats, which appeared on the runway hours earlier at Dior’s haute couture show.
“When I walk up that staircase where he (Dior) showed the New Look in 1947, I’m still gob smacked,” Jones says of the office. “It’s a fantastic thing to capture people’s imaginations.” He’ll be in next Monday to start talking winter 2012 with, we presume among others, Billy Gaytten head of Dior’s studio and his first assistant, Suzanna Venegas (both bowed at the close of this afternoon’s show). No matter though, as Jones holds his place as Dior’s go-to milliner. They have him exclusively for haute couture, which today meant translating five conceits into his signature whimsical pieces.
First, there was the Memphis design group of hollow geometric shapes perched atop models’ heads in the collective’s signature colors. Then, came perforated waves of metal in homage to Frank Gehry, followed by tiny spiral foiled turban toppers. The cape like dresses called for only a wild froth of loose hair sans chapeau, though the finale brought Le Palace nightclub-worthy creations: a band of shooting stars, face-framing crescent moon, bicorne and black and white Pierrot clown hat. Each look was complimented with outlandish eyebrows created by Pat McGrath and Orlando Pita’s enormous teased hair. Once the hats are complete, it’s up to hair and makeup to bring it all together. “I couldn’t do what I do without them,” Jones says. “Today, I was Orlando’s P.A.”
Tomorrow morning, Jones is off to London, but will return for the Love Ball (he’ll be seated at hostess Natalia Vodionova’s table). Then, it’s back to work on a few special projects, including his acting role as the Royal Milliner in Madonna’s upcoming film W.E. Come September, he has his V&A exhibition, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones, opening in New York at the Bard Graduate Centre’s gallery.