Popping into the Kurt Geiger Fashionistas party at the St Martins Lane hotel last night, I was rather taken with these Luella-esque lovelies – dramatically festooned with their own fancy net veils like little cocktail hats!
Milliners are like buses, nothing for ages then a whole procession of them arrive at once. Stephen Jones and Philip Treacy were for a long time the only hatters worth knowing. Philip Treacy’s fashion shows were a huge fanfare with fabulous models like Susie Bick and Grace Jones cavorting on the catwalk, dynamic music and an overall party-party atmosphere. Meanwhile Stephen Jones has been busying himself for years, nay decades, without quite so much pomp, yet fashioning hats season after season for Galliano, Dior, Comme and a fleet of other designers to boot. This month he is curating his two-years-in-the-making exhibition, Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones and there is certainly a buzz around it. But there’s also a buzz around millinery in general.
When I saw Grace Jones at the Roundhouse last week it was an all-round gobsmacking experience. From the people-watching (Judy Blame wearing a bra…on his face) to the music (I literally swooned during La Vie En Rose) to the showmanship, but the star attraction was the Philip Treacy hat-fest – a different one for each outfit change. But the end of the noughties has coralled in a whole new generation of bonce-beautifiers…
Justin Smith Esquire is an ex-hairdresser whose star is on the rise. His vintage-referenced hats have more than a touch of English eccentricity about them – how special are these bespoke numbers?
I love the theatrical grandeur of Louis Mariette’s fanciful adornments. Not only does he make hats but also jewellery, belts…even eyepatches dammit!
Piers Atkinson makes sometimes-macabre-sometimes-cartoony hats. Last season he did a Mickey Mouse ears theme including a neon headpiece in collaboration with Darren West. This season I’m loving his brilliantly bonkers stuffed-toy hat. I’d wear one! Atkinson tells me he has two hats in the V&A exhibition and is currently working on the hats for the Ashish show so I’m hoping for colour and maybe a bit of sparkle.
Finally, my favourite. Soren Bach is another hairdresser-slash-hatter (how many more are there I wonder). I saw these amazing multi-coloured fur hats a few seasons ago at London Fashion Week and have never forgotten them. I think they were from his RCA graduate collection but I’d love to see more from him.
Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones opens on 24th February at the V&A
Shoemaker Terry de Havilland surely needs no introduction. From helping his father with the family cobbler business in the 1950s, to shodding London’s counter culture in the ’60s and Primrose Hill’s finest in the noughties, he’s still doing a roaring trade in sky-high wedges. Now he’s on a mission with his wife and sidekick Liz, to get his teeth into the men’s footwear market.
DRG: How did we get to the point of 6 and 7 inch skyscraper heels?
TERRY: I think this has come about because fashion has declared that women are allowed to wear really high heels without being accused of looking like hookers. The fuss Gwyneth Paltrow caused when she uncharacteristically stepped out in all those high heels a couple of months back was pure genius in terms of publicity.
DRG: What’s the appeal of heels?
TERRY: Once you get used to wearing heels it’s very difficult to give up the height that comes with them. Being taller is very empowering. The Venetian courtesans back in the day used to wear chopines that were up to 24″ tall. They were a sign of wealth because the women couldn’t venture out in them unless they had two footmen to support them.
DRG: What’s your take on all these revivals – wedges, platforms, etc?
TERRY: I’ve been designing shoes for almost 50 years now and I’ve seen heel height fashions come and go. This era is very reminiscent of the 70s. I made some ridiculously high wedges back then which were about 9″ high with a 6″ platform. I put a government health warning label in them. I made them just because I could. I never expected anyone to buy them, but they did! At the moment the most popular shoes from my bespoke range have a 7″ heel with a 2″ platform. Now I’m on a mission to get the boys back into cuban heels.
DRG: Ah, the Archie Eyebrows line. That’s the mens boots I saw that you’re also scaling down to women’s sizes…?
LIZ: Yes, we’ve got two heel heights in them now. The ladies ones are nearly ready, I just wanted to make sure that the last was nice and comfortable before I made them.
DRG: Are you still doing my Alison Mosshart gold look-alikes then?
LIZ: Of course we’ll be doing the ladies cubans in gold. The beauty of it is that we’ll be getting the components in so that we can make the specials here in London. In other words, you’ll be able to come down to the studio and pick your style and your fabrics in much the same way as we make our custom made Terrys at the moment.
DRG: Where are you selling the Archies?
Liz: Archie Eyebrows is much more backstreet than high street. We’ve just set up a shop within a shop selling the line at Sir Tom Baker, 4 D’Arblay St, Soho . You’ll love the shop, Sir Tom Baker is a total nutter and a brilliant tailor. Check out his website. We also stock Stephen Jones hats. It’s a modern slant on a classic gentleman’s outfitters, or as our lawyer calls it “an out man’s gentle fitters”…
“It is time to straighten ourselves out, we are too slovenly. Everything seems to be allowed, even eating and drinking in a church square while stripped to the waist.”
Giorgio Armani wants his fellow countrymen to smarten up