When the milliner Stephen Jones opened his “Accent of Fashion” hat exhibition in Istanbul on April 7, it was the latest in a series of accolades that the British designer has received. But whatever the verdict on the hats displayed at Istanbul’s Vakko Fashion Center, Mr. Jones already has a place in exhibition history. The April edition of The Art Newspaper contains the publication’s annual survey of exhibition and museum attendance figures worldwide. And it notes with “surprise” that “Hats: An Anthology by Stephen Jones” at the Queensland Gallery of Art in Brisbane, Australia, was one of the main attractions in the top 10 decorative-arts shows in 2010 — surpassed only by “American Women” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The newspaper said that the Australian hat show, with a daily attendance of 2,715 visitors, and a total of 249,751, beat last year’s much-feted Yves Saint Laurent Paris retrospective (with 2,080 daily visitors) and even broke Mr. Jones’s own previous record. When he curated the same hat show for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London in 2009, it attracted a total of 95,000 visitors. There are currently two Stephen Jones exhibitions on the road: the “Accent of Fashion” display that started in Antwerp, Belgium, and is now in Istanbul; and the “Anthology” exhibit, illustrating the designer’s overall vision of hats throughout history, that went from London to Brisbane and will be at New York’s Bard Graduate Center in September.
Mr. Jones has a theory about the popularity of the Queensland Gallery exhibit. “Australia is different from Western Europe — an art gallery is almost seen as a community center or a church hall,” he said. “It is about education and entertainment, so the perception is different.”