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Images of a little boy on the seashore in the 1960s or a newborn baby devouring mother’s milk might are not generally considered part of a style bible, but King of Hats, Stephen Jones, and Queen of Bags, Olympia Le-Tan have exposed themselves with all their fun and foibles in two tomes.

Rizzoli has become the publisher of choice for the fashion world. But what is so often a visual feast with a scant regard for storytelling is served up in a more lavish way for what can be seen as instant Christmas gifts.

In both cases, it is the fashion artists’ sense of humour that adds to the overall merriment.

A Certain “Hatitude”

Stephen Jones: Souvenirs is an apt title for a book in which Stephen John Moffatt Jones, from England’s northern city of Liverpool, seems to have been born to design headgear. The frontispiece, with its hundred intricate doodles of hats, expresses the power of the calling that turned the young student of Saint Martin’s – whose first forays in fashion included transforming the Queen of England into a Punk – into a hat maker for high fashion.

This “head master” to haute couture took his talent forward to create extraordinary pieces, especially for John Galliano. Their joint imaginations produced hats inspired by a Samurai warrior’s rising sun helmets, or bouquets of flowers - cellophane included - and so much more. The images are not only a feast for the eyes but also a display of vibrant and poetic imagination.

In the words - less obviously enticing than the images - the “Mad Hatter” reveals his working relationship with Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons and discusses the importance to his febrile imagination of the crown, which he describes as “the absolute thing”. His most remarkable inspiration, he claims in the text (written with fashion editor Susannah Frankel), was an Indian crown entirely knitted in gold thread on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

“I love the idea of one culture taking something from another culture and inventing it all incorrectly - because out of that comes something incredible,” says the author, who might be talking about his own process.

An introduction by American Vogue’s fashion guru Grace Coddington sums up the story of this milliner “extraordinaire”. Photographed wearing a cat-shaped hat on her marmalade hair, she says: “I have a real love for the way Stephen’s mind works - there is such happiness in his millinery genius.”Read more | evening dresses online

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