Craft / October 2016

Plain Genius: The Hats of Nick Fouquet

When we asked Nick Fouquet to design a hat for The Rake, we never said it would be easy. But Nick rose to our design challenge — the theme was Montana…
Fouquet's design undergoes distressing.

Throughout different cultures and professions, the hat has always been more than a garment of practicality. Unlike any other piece of clothing, it sits on prime real estate, three or four inches above the eyes, our most profound mode of communication. This explains why the hat can trace its ancestry through all manner of social statuses, ranks and professions. The colours, shapes and accessories all signify something about the wearer, and they are there so they stand out among the hoi polloi. This holds true today. An army officer’s cap badge is cloth, in comparison to other ranks’ metallic versions; the cardinal wears a biretta or galero, bright red, signifying their place at the top of the church; landed gentry would wear top hats for hunting while gamekeepers would wear bowler hats to fend off low branches while on horseback.

Despite its colourful heritage, one man in the United States has held one truth to be self-evident: that all hats are created equal. Nick Fouquet always starts from a blank canvas: each design is unique and never part of any mass fashion season. These creations come out of him, and the perceived owner is a man who falls in love with it, nothing more. Each hat contains a D.N.A. that is unmistakably Nick Fouquet, but its energy appeals to different people. Fouquet hats are where the top hat and the bowler hat compete for artistic superiority, without a sniff of social rank. It’s a remarkable feat that has turned an accessory into a work of art, in a way that a suit cannot be.

In an experiment with Nick, The Rake spoke to him to see if we could merge two worlds, create a paradoxical hat that not only looked astonishing but told a story, too. The theme was ‘Montana meets London’, and Nick did not disappoint. He tells The Rake: “I was really excited about this project. The idea of Montana meets London was right up my alley. I had already a million ideas swirling around, as I loved the juxtaposition of two counterpart ideologies.”

The source material for ideas was plentiful. He says: “I referenced a ton of old movies, like The Outlaw Josey Wales, and various books. Since I’d visited both places very recently I had a very good reference point to merge the two together in an organic way. Strangely enough, to me, it made sense.” He adds that the theme of London was “elegance, sophistication and style. I also think of rain and grey days.” And Montana was “open sky, horses, roaming hills, sheer natural beauty and cowboys”.

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Contributor

Tom Chamberlin

Editor of The Rake Magazine