The Legendary Milliner Stephen Jones Settles Some Beef With Interview

Interview’s editor-in-chief, Mel Ottenberg, with the legendary milliner Stephen Jones.

A wise person once said, “To forgive is divine.” Stephen Jones says, “Bullshit.” Over the course of his more than 40-year career, the legendary milliner has worked with designers including Vivienne Westwood, Claude Montana, John Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Thom Browne, Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela and Fiorucci; dressed icons like Grace Jones, Diana Ross, Mick Jagger, and Lady Gaga; and was named the artistic director of Dior hats in 1996, where he established the label’s reputation for iconic headwear and masterminded of some of the label’s most jaw-dropping runway moments over more than two decades. Last week, our editor-in-chief Mel Ottenberg caught up with Jones at the opening of the new Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum. The pair relived two of the exhibition’s iconic headwear moments from SJ’s years-long collaboration with the French house, and cleared the air about a dust-up with Interview that has haunted the designer since the ’80s. Below, SJ and Ottenberg make plans to settle some beef.


MEL OTTENBERG: Stephen, this look here was the opening look in the first couture show I ever attended, and I just realized that it’s haute couture Autumn/Winter 2005. This is Stella [Tennant]’s look, right?

STEPHEN JONES: Erin [O’Connor]’s.

OTTENBERG: Erin’s look. So, wait. Stella was the mom, or Erin was the mom?

JONES: There were three moms in the show. It was Erin, Stella, and some girl who I can’t remember. The funny story about this look is that they had a horse backstage. It had been there for like three hours, so of course it did a giant poo in the middle of backstage. The entire area smelled like horse shit.


JONES: Yeah. A perfect fashion moment. John thought it was hilarious.

OTTENBERG: Can we just talk about King Tut over here for a second?

JONES: Yeah, sure.

OTTENBERG: Was this your crowning achievement of all of your fiercest hat moments on a runway?

JONES: It was.

OTTENBERG And it’s Spring/Summer 2004.

JONES: Yeah. It was amazing. I’ve never been so freaked out and so upset. I actually cried in front of John and I said, “I just don’t think I can do it,” and he said, “Why not?” I said, “It’s just too much for me.” And he said, “But you will.”

OTTENBERG: And you did!

JONES: And his steely reserve propelled me to do it. But when I see it, I still feel that anxiety.

OTTENBERG: You feel the horror of the nightmare.

JONES: Yeah, and the amazing thing about it was that I saw all these incredible girls like Erin and Alek Wek coming out wearing these clothes, and looking absolutely exquisite.

OTTENBERG: So was it John [Galliano] or Steven [Robinson] that explained to them how to walk while leaning back like that?

JONES: John did. They both studied Tutankhamun’s body cast and his body shape, so the corsets were made on Erin to look like Tutankhamun.

OTTENBERG: Phenomenal.

JONES: And that’s what everybody had to be in. That’s how they wore it.

OTTENBERG: Super, super, super. So I feel like you have some beef with Interview that I didn’t know about, and I’d like for you to tell me about it so that we can squash this once and for all.

JONES: Some beef with Interview? I’ve got a whole cow.

OTTENBERG: Spill it. Cut it open.

JONES: So, I was going to be an InterMan and my friend Kim was going to be a ViewGirl. It was confirmed, I told everybody, and then I was cut at the last minute. It was bullshit. I don’t know if Andy [Warhol] didn’t like the look of me, or if it was some art director.


JONES: You know what I mean? I haven’t lived properly since then.

OTTENBERG: So you’re saying it’s not too late. As Editor-In-Chief, I’ll start InterMan again and cast you as the bright new face.

JONES: Or, at the back of your next issue, you can put “Erratum 1984. Sorry, we made a mistake.” And add a little picture of me.

OTTENBERG: Fuck. Okay. You got a hot picture from 1984?

JONES: Yeah.

Stephen Jones shot by David LaChapelle for Interview’s April 1987 issue.

OTTENBERG: Done deal.

JONES: Do you want clothed or unclothed?

OTTENBERG: Whatever you want it to be. It will live on forever.

JONES: Fantastic. Now I can sleep tonight.