In the second instalment of S-Mag week photographer Liam Warwick teams up with milliners Jordan Bowen and Keely Hunter for fashion film, His ‘n’ Hers, before we take a look at Jordan’s shoot – His. And come back tomorrow for more shots from Keely’s portion of the shoot – Hers.
Jordan Bowen fell into his craft almost by accident, training with family friend Stephen Jones as a stopgap move before deciding to embark on a full time career in millinery. A part time model also known for wearing his own creations around East London, we find out how he’s putting Stephen’s advice to good use.
TWHAT WAS THE FIRST HAT YOU FELL IN LOVE WITH?
My aunt is a stylist and she went to university with Stephen Jones in the early eighties—she was basically his muse and best friend. Because she lived in LA there was a shrine to her in my grandma’s house, and I remember looking at pictures of her and Stephen in hats. I’d gaze at them and find them really fascinating.
WAS YOUR AUNT AN INFLUENCE ON YOU FROM AN EARLY AGE?
She lived in Los Angeles and she’s quite bossy and domineering but in a really fabulous way! She really introduced me to the idea of style and she challenged me. I remember being in LA at about 17 when she gave me the book Buffalo: The Style and Fashion of Ray Petri, and said, ‘you need to read this, it’s part of your education’
SO WHAT DREW YOU TO HATS SPECIFICALLY?
I was at a crossroads in my life, I was about 19 and I’d just finished my A-Levels, and wasn’t sure what to do with myself. I was planning to go to university and become a writer but my aunt said to me, ‘why don’t you just go and work at Stephen’s for a couple of weeks and see if you like it’, and I did. I remember painting plant pots with shoe polish for about a week! I left for a bit and went travelling, and then I came back to Stephen’s studio and it just felt right, I felt at home there.
WHY DID YOU FEEL THE NEED TO GO TO KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA COLLEGE THEN?
I was working with Stephen for about four years before I made the decision to go to university so up to that point I’d picked up a lot, but when I started college I’d never actually made a hat from start to finish. I suppose I began to get frustrated. I was watching Stephen being so creative, working with Dior, Jasper Conran and Galliano making all these amazing hats. I was very envious of what Stephen was doing but looking back now it was inspiration, so in 2010 I thought, ‘fuck it, I’ll apply for college’.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU LEARNT AT COLLEGE THAT YOU COULDN’T LEARN WITH STEPHEN?
To make a hat for a start! At Stephen’s I just learnt the basics—how to do a bow and all these little bits but at college I learnt how to actually construct a hat from a flat piece of fabric. But I’ve always been quite rebellious and I really rebelled at college. I retaliated against what they wanted me to do and started doing menswear instead of traditional women’s hats. I thought if nothing else I’d leave with a collection of hats that I could wear. But in retrospect I am very grateful for all the skills they taught me.
WHERE DO YOU FIND YOUR INSPIRATION AT THE START OF A NEW COLLECTION?
The inspiration for my shapes actually came from looking at a book of Botero, he’s an artist who basically repaints everything but fat—fat Jesus, fat Mona Lisa. I really love his aesthetic, I love his curves and my inspiration for shape comes from him. But apart from him, I’m inspired by books. My first collection, was based on Orwell’s 1984 because I was reading that at the time.
HOW MUCH OF YOUR OWN PERSONALITY IS REFLECTED IN YOUR DESIGNS?
They are me, completely. Now that I’ve started designing more commercially I take wearability into account but I hate the word compromise so I think it’s important not to compromise too much.
See more the new issue of Leica’s S-Mag here