Los Angeles-based Nick Fouquet is in many ways the ultimate California dude — tall and lanky, with a shaggy blond mane that simply begs to have a hat put on it — but don’t call him a milliner. His approach to hat making is anything but traditional. “I’ve always wanted to do my own thing,” he says, “and it’s such a niche market and undervalued accessory. To me, hats are the pinnacle of elegance. I’m not here to reinvent them — but to do it with my twist; not over-the-top or dramatic, like a milliner might.”
There’s almost a hint of disdain in Fouquet’s voice, in fact, when he says the “m” word. “There are maybe 30 people in America and 300 people in the world who know this trade,” he says. “When I started, a lot of hat makers were appalled that I would use fire, throw paint on a hat, distress the felt, reinvent shapes. And I was like, ‘You’re like, 80 years old, what do you know?’” Indeed, a Nick Fouquet hat captures a lived-in aesthetic that brings a much-needed breath of fresh air to the market; the designer’s signature detail is a strike-anywhere match tucked into each hat’s brim. “TSA at the airport is not a big fan when I roll through with the matchsticks,” he admits. “They get very suspicious.”
Now, about five years since he’s entered the hat business, Fouquet puts out two collections a year, has partnered with Colette and has a collaboration with Barneys New York planned for this fall, and has a celebrity following that includes Madonna, Pharrell, Bob Dylan, Carine Roitfeld, Gigi Hadid and Sia (who wore a Nick Fouquet hat to perform at the afterparty for the Calvin Klein men’s show in Milan last week). But commercial success and the glitz of celebrity endorsement notwithstanding, Fouquet sounds most excited when he talks about working with individual clients through his bespoke business. “The client always thinks of things that I would never think of, like, ‘Let’s put 100 feathers on the brim,’” he says. “We just get these ideas. And I’m not afraid to fall flat on my face.”
Though Fouquet hasn’t ruled out expanding his line in the future — “In the grand scheme of things, yeah, I see a bigger brand,” he says — for now, his focus remains singular. “It would be preemptive to get into shoes, bags or ready-to-wear at this point,” he says. “There’s so much more that I have to say with hats.”
$900-$3,000, available at the Nick Fouquet flagship at 853 Lincoln Boulevard, Venice, Calif., and at Barneys New York starting this fall, nickfouquet.com.
Source : NyTimes