Get to Know Justin Bieber, Bob Dylan and LeBron James' Go-To Hat Designer
The model-turned-designer talks about summer trends, inspiration and how Pharrell sent his career into "turbo speed."
Nick Fouquet is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable names in California fashion, with a fan base ranging from supermodel Gigi Hadid and basketball icon LeBron James, to music stars like Justin Bieber, Madonna and Bob Dylan.
The former model (he starred in Ralph Lauren and Levi's ads) designs toppers beloved by the Venice Beach crowd that have a distinct, deconstructed look with a trademark matchstick found on all his creations. He steams, sands and takes fire to raw materials before adding leather or other decorative pieces to the hat.
We caught up with the New York-born, France-raised designer while he was hosting an intimate soiree at his cozy indoor-outdoor Venice studio for tequila brand, Maestro Dobel Tequila. Fouquet, an ambassador for the smoked silver tequila company, says he wanted to get involved with the brand because of the similarities he saw in both of their products. "Humito is known for its heritage, craftsmanship and innovation and the process of distilling this special tequila had a lot of parallels with what I do with my craft."
Pret-a-Reporter: What made you want to become a hat designer?
Fouquet: Initially, it was an accident. I had never dreamt of taking on this profession, I think it took me on. I was passionate about the lost art of it and the process. I love sewing machines and industrial machine equipment. So when I realized steam and fire were involved I was really intrigued. The passion became an obsession. It just seems now that it's what I was destined to do.
What is the most popular hat style with your celebrity clients?
It really depends. The styles for celebrity clientele are as diverse as their characters and personalities. It really depends on the artist themselves.
What is the difference between a West Coast and East Coast shopper of your brand? Do they like different styles, or colors?
Honestly, there is not a big difference. They're into the same aesthetic and vibe. That's what is so cool — they just get it and don't ask too many questions. It's an experience.
Is there a stand-out moment for you of a celebrity wearing one of your designs on the red carpet?
Yes, I mean looking back on it today, it was when Pharrell wore one of my hats at the Grammys with Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder. I remember thinking, "Is this for real?" That's the moment when things went turbo speed.
What do you think are the new hat trends for summer?
I don't really follow trends so I wouldn't know, but what I'm doing is a lot of experimenting with resin and dead flowers and natural straw colors with frayed ends.
Where do you get inspiration from?
Everywhere. Traveling is huge for me, just opening my eyes and taking in everything like a sponge. Otis Redding songs, old films, nature. Not to sound cliche, but everything and anything.
Who are a few of the other designers you look up to or respect in the fashion industry?
The Elder Statesman, Dries Van Noten, Ralph Lauren, Kapital, Greg Lauren, Thom Browne ... the list goes on.
Any plans to expand the brand into other accessories?
Yeah. I'm working on a top-secret project I'm very excited about. It's out of left field and I like to keep my clients and audience on their toes …