The Bowes Museum > Exhibitions > 2012 > Stephen Jones: From Georgiana to Boy George

Stephen Jones: From Georgiana to Boy George


19 May 2012 - 2 September 2012


One of British Fashion’s best loved characters, whose client list boasts style icons such as French First Lady Carla Bruni alongside pop divas Madonna and Kylie Minogue, exhibited a selection of his stunning creations at The Bowes Museum.

Milliner Stephen Jones, whom Italian Vogue’s Anna Piaggi describes as ‘the maker of the most beautiful hats in the world’, has worked with some of the world’s most prominent fashion houses and designers during his illustrious career, including Jean Paul Gaultier, Vivienne Westwood, Christian Dior, John Galliano and Giles Deacon. And then he lent a selection of his fabulous hats for the show From Georgiana to Boy George.

One of the original New Romantic style setters, Jones saw his passion for museums fuelled when he studied at St Martin’s School of Art in the late 1970s. He opened his first millinery salon in Covent Garden in 1980, with an eclectic client mix which included the then Lady Diana Spencer and Visage front man Steve Strange, and was soon asked to create hats for catwalk shows. His hats can be inspired by an historical discovery or an imagined narrative prompted by an artefact, painting or photograph, with designs drawn from relics of the Renaissance, cluttered Victoriana, the glamour of the 1930s and the ‘swinging sixties.’

The Georgian era is a period Jones returns to again and again, especially the Regency.



He is entranced by the elegance of neo-classical architecture, the romantic poets, fluttering plumes, bonnets and turbans, which he describes as ‘having history between every seam.’

Always at the cutting edge of fashion, his captivating hats habitually adorn the chicest magazine covers, and they have now been modelled by a collection of vintage mannequins in The Bowes Museum’s stunning Fashion & Textile Gallery.

Dubbed ‘the most original milliner working today’, Jones, whose boutique and atelier is still based in Covent Garden, was awarded the OBE in 2009 for his services to millinery. His work is represented in the permanent collections of a number of international museums, including the V&A in London, the Louvre in Paris, The Fashion Institute of Technology and the Brooklyn Museum (both New York), the Kyoto Costume Institute, Japan, and the Australian National Gallery in Canberra.

Related Event


Stephen Jones in Conversation with Iain R Webb

Thursday 9 August 2012, 2.30pm, 
Tickets: £15.00 including a glass of sparkling wine,
£13.50 Friends of The Bowes Museum
Stephen Jones and award winning fashion writer Iain R Webb, who has contributed to The Times, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, met as fashion students at St Martin’s School of Art in the late 1970s. They became great friends and went on to forge illustrious careers, Stephen being awarded an OBE in 2009 for his services to millinery, and Iain being recognised with professorships at both his alma mater and the Royal College of Art. This event brings the two together to discuss their life-long love of fashion, history and hats.

The Bowes Museum grounds are open!


Due to the government announcement on Thursday 17 December, that County Durham is to remain in COVID tier 3 restrictions, The Bowes Museum unfortunately will remain closed to all visitors. However, the grounds remain open to visitors from 10.00 - 4.00 daily, and we are currently hosting a woodland fairy trail, two spring trails and outdoor guided tours are available from 29 March 2021.

As we have already been shut for a number of weeks and there is much uncertainty around possible further restrictions, we have decided to use this period to undertake some work in Café Bowes, alongside performing some much-needed structural repairs to the building, notably to the windows. January and February are usually quieter times for the Museum, often due to severe weather, so we believe that this is the best time to carry out such works with the least amount of disruption to our visitors.

We have therefore decided to remain closed for a period of four weeks following any near-future tier 2 announcement from the government, as this will allow us time to deep clean the Museum prior to reopening our doors once again. We will, of course, keep you updated as the guidelines change.

Your ongoing support during these unprecedented times is hugely appreciated and we very much look forward to welcoming you back into the building as early as possible in 2021.

We hope to be able to offer a few COVID-safe outdoor events over the coming months, about which we shall make further announcements as soon as possible.