Stephen Jones was born in Cheshire in 1957. In 1975, as an art foundation student at High Wycombe College of Art, he first visited the V&A – to see the exhibition Fashion from 1900–1939. He says: ‘This was a revelatory experience... For the first time I had an inkling that I would like to be part of the fashion world’. He applied to St Martin’s School of Art (now Central Saint Martins) to study women’s fashion, but soon became entranced by the millinery department and asked for a transfer.
When Jones left college in 1979 he recalls that ‘the creative atmosphere was in flux… Punk had lost its energy and the vacuum was filled by the New Wave and the New Romantics’. London’s famous Blitz nightclub was a magnet for these movements, and Jones was a regular. He made hats for friends and fellow clubbers, and then in 1980, backed by Blitz’ owner Steve Strange, he opened his first millinery salon in Covent Garden.Since then, Jones has become recognised as one of the world’s most radical and important milliners. He designs hats for couturiers and celebrities, including Vivienne Westwood, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Madonna, and Dita Von Teese. For Jones, however, ‘collaborating with clients is an adventure whether they are a bridesmaid from Lancashire or Rei Kawakubo preparing for a fashion show. There is never a formula and every time is like the first time’.