January 25, 2011

You know something is happening here, but you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Jones?

This is the kind of post I've been putting off until I thought I'd magically become better at writing because this experience deserves a recap that I can't really provide. But the story deserves telling, so way back in September, I went to Antwerp for the opening of Stephen Jones' exhibition at the MoMu to see decades' worth of the milliner's designs and to get inside the head behind the hats. (Did I lure you in with my movie trailer-like pun? No? Go back and read it in this voice and you'll see what I mean.)

The exhibit is named the Accent of Fashion, but proves that an accent doesn't have to mean a mere addition, and in this case can be more of an exclamation point. The hats are displayed in four parts -- Adventure, Rococo, Science, and Glamour -- offering a look into how Mr. Jones draws from varied sources for inspiration and sees his art in relation to the world around him. Throughout the room are photographs by the likes of Juergen Teller and Nick Knight and mannequins complete with the full looks of designers like Comme des Garcons and Dior, showing how different creatives have interpreted his work and vice versa. It's easy to see his importance as a figure in fashion right away.

What's more, the hats can be reflective of Stephen Jones himself, brimming with character. He is the Mad Hatter, and a short documentary on Mr. Jones showing in one room of the exhibit allows us to see this correlation between the artist and the art. The clip also helps put into perspective his work in a cultural context, more specifically, punk/DIY roots. I got the feeling watching it that only from starting out by making hats for his school friends could one develop such a clever use of resources (train tickets, Doc Marten soles, Barbies, and shattered mirrors, to name a few).

In the DIY vein, I was asked to cut the ribbon with Mr. Jones, as a blogger and stuff. At first I panicked because I thought they meant my ribbon, the one I wear on my head, but apparently they meant the ribbon for the exhibit! I obviously felt very honored, but the Oscar speech I'd prepared in my African Cats voice was cut off by all the people rushing in. It still felt special to open it with Mr. Jones (who I refer to as that mostly because then I can pretend I'm in a Bob Dylan song) and, as someone with at least an ounce of appreciation for creativity, see the exhibit.

And now photos! This is only the beginning, more are here.

Each section began with a giant version of a hat that was accurate right down to the details. This one was for "Rococo."













































Thank you to United Airlines and VisitFlanders.us for helping to sponsor this trip.