A good hat could change your life. Here's how...

Story highlights

  • Stephen Jones is one of the world's most renowned milliners
  • He's created hats for the likes of Princess Diana and Lady Gaga
  • His new book, "Stephen Jones: Souvenirs," looks back at his 40-year career
Stephen Jones is a high fashion milliner. This is an edited excerpt from his new memoirs, "Stephen Jones: Souvenirs," published by Rizzoli.

(CNN)Souvenirs -- what a wonderful word. For me, it conjures up a mental slide show of diverse images: multicolored ice cream cornets on a five-year-old's Cornish holiday, a white and gold plastic Leaning Tower of Pisa, or the hat I actually called Souvenirs in my Spring-Summer 1993 collection, its satin brim pinned with family snapshots.

For a milliner, the past is always looming over you as the golden age of hat wearing. I close my eyes and see scenes outside a colliery in the 1930s with every man wearing a jaunty flat cap or, blink, the black-and-white Ascot extravaganzas for Cecil Beaton's costumes in "My Fair Lady. "
    Nowadays, in reality, we are much less hatty.
    As a child, I was more interested in the future than the past, even if that future was the Supermarionation puppet show "Thunderbirds."
    In 2016, fashion's present seems a strange concept, and the usual rule of time does not appear to apply. One person's futuristic is another person's antique.
    What does feel decidedly old-fashioned is the notion that something is in one season and out the next. We are not living in the 1940s, when Christian Dior's diktats about the drooping of hemlines and the sloping of shoulders were law. In the information age everything seems pertinent, whether past, present, or future.
    My pencil has been inventing hats for 40 years now, since my first experiments with cardboard, glue, and odd pieces of fabric during the heady days of punk as a fashion student at Saint Martin's. I pick up a vorpal sword of graphite and confront the jabberwocky challenge of that blank page.
    A 10-second sketch: first the oval of a head, next a neck to indicate the line and angle of the spine, a shoulder to suggest the body, and now the hat can start to grow.
    Even though my mind is crammed full of information and images from a lifetime of looking, looking, looking, this must be suspended for my pencil to run free. That is why the best hats often start life as subconscious doodles on the side of the page.
    Thus, with much huffing and puffing, art and craft, these doodles eventually turn into reality. Then it's off to the workshop and on to the client, becoming the most visible, transformative, and fun part of your outfit -- your Passport to Pleasure (Spring-Summer 1986), your Carte Blanche (Spring-Summer 2014) and, of course, your Souvenirs...
    "Stephen Jones: Souvenirs" by Stephen Jones is out now.