He was born in Liverpool, England in 1957 and graduated in 1979 from St. Martin’s School of Art in London.
His asymmetric and outrageous hats quickly became popular with designers such as Jean-Paul Gaultier, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler and Zandra Rhodes. He also designed for singers such as Madonna, Boy George and George Michael. The Princess of Wales branched out from the traditional royal milliners, choosing Stephen to make some of her hats.
He is credited with helping to revive millinery during the latter part of the 20th century, and is still going strong. In 1990 he launched a number of new accessory and diffusion lines.
How did you become interested in millinery?
By chance, I was a tailor’s apprentice and the millinery workroom was next door.
Where did you learn millinery?
At Lachasse Couture house in London, England, by a milliner called Shirley Hex, who subsequently taught many milliners including Phillip Treacy.
How long have you been a milliner for? Where else did you work?
Since 1977 when I made my first hat. It was my first real job.
Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
Everywhere; life. But in particular friends, architecture, film, travelling.
What has been your most enjoyable commission?
Making hats for friends. Also the Princess of Wales and the first collection for John Galliano.
How would you describe your style of hats?
Light, charming, witty, modern, romantic.
Who do you make hats for? Church goers? Brides? Everyday winter wear? Etc. etc.
24/7 and everybody, but mainly people who enjoy clothes.
What materials and techniques do you favor?
The most classic – straw felt velvet and the most innovative plastics, paints, electro luminescent fabrics.
Any other interests?
Hats are all consuming so I never stop thinking about them but I love travel, painting, etc.!