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Noel Stewart: The Mad Hatter

The milliner talks hat making for some of fashion’s biggest names

Noel Stewart speaks the language of fine headwear. The milliner is one of the most innovative talents of his kind to rise up London’s fashion echelons in recent years; his finesse for structure and impeccable detail stands alone. Stewart revved his collaborative engine during the SS13 season, crafting hats for Gareth Pugh, SIBLING, Hussein Chalayan, Viktor & Rolf and more. This adds to a roll call that already includes working with the likes of Erdem, Oscar de la Renta, Richard Nicoll and Marc by Marc Jacobs in the ten short years since launching his eponymous label. Dazed Digital caught up with Stewart to hear about his recent work and his own Spring Summer 2013 collection.

Millinery has a lot of freedom that you don’t get with clothing

Dazed Digital: Why hats?
Noel Stewart: The head is the most powerful place to accessorise; the choices you make about what you place there are extremely important as to how you express yourself and communicate. Millinery also has a lot of freedom that you don’t get with clothing.

DD: The SS13 season has been thrilling for you – what were your highlights?
Noel Stewart: I’ve wanted to work with Gareth for years and it was a very emotional show with a new direction, so was wonderful to be a part of that. The Chalayan hats were satisfying as a lot of unusual technical and logistical conundrums went in to creating these very clean and simple looking pieces. I really enjoyed working with Claire; there is something so unique about seeing a new vision come to life at the beginning of a career. Back in June we worked with Oscar Quiroz, Qasimi, SIBLING and Viktor & Rolf, really busy for our first men’s season!

DD: What is it about collaborating that you enjoy?
Noel Stewart: Sometimes it can be very playful and the end result is totally unexpected and sometimes it’s about hitting a very precise target. The catwalk is this incredible forum where you can do things you can’t do anywhere else – I love that challenge. 

DD: Can you tell us about your own SS13 collection?
Noel Stewart: I went to Hong Kong and Japan for the first time this year and they both completely blew me away. I wanted to create a collection that evoked the ancient serenity and clean modernity of Japan with the frenetic pace of Hong Kong. It’s a varied collection that speaks a number of languages.

DD: Who would you most love to wear one of your hats?
Noel Stewart:
Cate Blanchett, Bjork, Azalea Banks, M.I.A.

Photos by Bafic