Disney's new release The Lone Ranger has brought a visual feast to our screens along with a certain Mr Johnny Depp. While his face might be covered in paint for his role as Tonto, Depp's magnetism manages to shine through. But should you be wondering how Armie Hammer (aka Lone Ranger John Reid) managed to mask himself quite so dashingly, you'll have to ask London's premier milliner Stephen Jones. We caught up with the on-set mask designer to get the inside scoop on the feminine mystique and Johnny's hat mastery.
Disney's The Lone Ranger
Grazia Daily: How did the collaboration with Disney come about?
Stephen Jones: I’ve always loved Disney and when I was a kid the Lone Ranger was beyond exciting. I remember seeing it a TV series aged 5 or 6, but of course I was hiding behind the sofa at the scary bits. I’d collaborated with Disney before for 1001 Dalmatians - that was 7 years ago. So when they came to me and said there was an opportunity to work on The Lone Ranger, it was perfect. The mask is a key part of the plot and as masks and millinery go perfectly together, I couldn't refuse! The project was also done through the BFC because Disney wanted to include BFC and Headonsim which was really great becasue the young milliners who all worked on the collaboration [each Headonist deisgner came up with his or her own mask design for the project] had never done anything like it before. So it was great to show them how it is done.
Grazia Daily: Did you like the film? How was the experience of making it for you?
Stephen Jones: I had a great time! I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan, so it was great to see him in character. There were lots of other people coincidently working on the project that I had known in the past. I’d worked with Penny Rose - the film’s costume designer - literally 30 years ago, so it was great to see her again and see her work. I thought the cinematography was amazing and the script had just the right balance between serious plot and humour.
Grazia Daily: You mentioned that you are Johnny Depp fan. He’s a big hat wearer – do you approve?
Stephen Jones: Johnny wear hats fantastically. I think he just has the confidence and therefore he has that sense of believability. When it comes to men’s hats, the least sexy thing is for a man to look awkward. Johnny looks completely at ease with himself in a hat – but then even when he wears his white grease print and a crow on his head he looks believable.
Milliner, Stephen Jones
Grazia Daily: Which other stars do you think wear hats well?
Stephen Jones: Dita von Teese always looks very elegant. And Nicole Kidman wears hats very well. I’ve made hats for her for many years – she always looks great. To be a great actor, it’s very much a question of owning your costume. I suppose hats are costume so stars like to wear them and create a character. Nicole certainly owns her look when she's wearing a hat.
Grazia Daily: What’s the beauty of a mask?
Stephen Jones: It’s the idea of hiding something more than revealing it. Not to say a naked woman is boring but she’s certainly more interesting in lingerie. It’s part of the feminine mystique to conceal – you could say that a mask is like lingerie for the face.
A Stephen Jones Designed Lone Ranger Mask
Grazia Daily: As a milliner first and foremost, do you think your aesthetic can be translated to other products?
Stephen Jones: I think it can be transferred to other things, although hats are my first obsession. I was a colour consultant for Nissan cars in Japan 20 years ago, if you can believe it so you never know maybe I would desgin a car. The thing about design is that we all start by looking at colour, texture and the story behind a product and we all work along similar lines. I was talking with [architect and designer] Thomas Heatherwick and we found out we went through the same working process – but he’s making a building and I’m making a hat. I guess my ‘brand’ would be about lightness and humour.
Grazia Daily: You mentioned the younger milliners that you have worked with through Headonism – how important is passing the baton on to the next generation?
Stephen Jones: I mean it’s fantastic, I’m so lucky to be able to do that. You get to a point in your life and it’s great to hand on the baton – although I’m not sure it’s as grand as that. It’s more that I’m a bit of a hand to hold. I know things that are completely alien to them. Like how many hats should you have in a collection, for example – at the beginning, you just don’t know that.
Team Headonism With Their Lone Ranger Mask Designs
Grazia Daily: Who are the young milliners we should be looking out for?
Stephen Jones: I think the Headonism milliners are great. Obviously Piers [Atkinson] who is the most senior person in Headonism, is amazing and has gone a long way. He was one of the original members from when the project started at the V&A back in 2009 and has become a hugely successful milliner. But to single anyone out would be too hard - it would be like choosing between my favourite children!
This is the perfect opportunity to spend ten minutes staring at Johnny Depp, don't cha think? See his 50 greatest style moments in the gallery below...