2 posts tagged "Billy Kidd"
Entering milliner Heather Huey’s apartment, a fourth-floor walk-up in a heavily graffitied building in Bushwick, is a surreal shock. With rustic dark wood furniture, raw brick walls, and sewing supplies strewn across the center table, her home-cum-studio resembles something from another era. The walls are covered with the designer’s architectural “cage” garments, as well as her fiancé Billy Kidd’s black-and-white photographs. And then, against the back wall, there’s the 6-foot-high cabinet filled with her hats.
Huey makes the most spectacular—often one-of-a-kind—cranial confections. So when she invited me to preview her latest outing, which debuts exclusively here, I jumped at the chance. Fall ’14, the first collection Huey has designed since last year’s Pleated Project, boasts sculptural toppers crafted from manipulated black felt, distorted rosettes, tulle veils, feathers, chiffon-coated crystals, beads, and more. The embellished lineup is a departure for Huey, who usually focuses on form rather than frills. Though, as the designer tells it, “I love looking at old movies from the ’40s and ’50s. I’m such an admirer of the elaborate headpieces you see in them, so I thought I might as well just make my own versions and get that out of my system.” After seeing the results, like a beaded headband befitting a Spanish queen or an origami-ed bow-topped number that ever-so-slightly tilts to cover the forehead, I selfishly hope she hasn’t quenched her craving for such styles. But if this first foray into decoration is, in fact, her last, at least it packs a punch.
“I had accumulated all these random trims that my sister gave me,” Huey continued of the range, which looks like it belongs in a dark, decadent fairy tale—or, as she described it, “Marie Antoinette-meets-Man Ray.” “And they inspired me to start working on something that was a bit more regal. Something that had a little bit more pomp and circumstance.” Huey carefully fastened an abstract fedora—garnished with gauzy blooms and a lone feather—to the left side of her head. “Nothing too extreme, though,” she deadpanned.
In addition to these one-off designs, Huey sells a selection of everyday(ish) toppers, including expertly shaped straw sun hats, critter-inspired fascinators sold at Kiki de Montparnasse, and rhinestone rabbit ears, which I recently purchased for my own collection. It’s Huey’s special concoctions, however, that bring her the most joy. “I was raised in Ridgewood, Queens. Everything was always very low-key,” Huey recalled, while sitting in her living room in loose khaki pants and a faded gray tee. “I love dressing up, but within five minutes of walking out the door, I feel very self-conscious. I wish I were that woman, but in reality, it’s just not me.” She rarely wears her own hats, leaving that pleasure to models, pop stars like Rihanna, and eccentrics like Michelle Harper. But in making them for others, she gets her fix.
For more information, visit heatherhuey.com.
“I felt like I needed to do something a little bit more classic,” says thirty-two-year-old Heather Huey, the milliner-cum-conceptual-designer best known for her dramatic body cages (as worn by Rihanna in her Annie Leibovitz-lensed Vogue spread last November), crystal bunny masks, and sculptural chapeaux. Indeed, Pleated Project, her latest collection of pleated grosgrain and felt headpieces, stems from classic references (like circle hats and papal miters), but the result is hardly traditional. Made completely in black (“I love black,” says Huey. “It’s classic, flattering, easy, and lets me focus on other elements of design, like shape, texture, and finish.”), the collection features a host of structured toppers that are simultaneously wearable and editorial. Take, for instance, a fascinator that twists and arcs like a pair of frowning lips, or a large piece with upturned wings that merges Hunger Games-esque futurism with a Victorian silhouette (thanks to her background in architecture, Huey’s shapes are always unusual but considered).
So who can pull off Huey’s head sculptures? “She has to have confidence and a desire to commit to whatever look she is creating,” explains the designer, who describes her personal aesthetic as “low-key casual” and rarely wears her own work. (There are exceptions, of course, like when her boyfriend, photographer Billy Kidd shot Huey in her creations for an exhibition at Clic Gallery last year.) She does, however, try on her toppers during the design process. “My head isn’t really a ‘hat’ head, so I know if it looks good on me, it’s going to look amazing on anyone else,” she laughs.
After spending several months on her intricate pleated looks, Huey is already planning her next move—a new range of cages. “The Pleated Project challenged me to take on the traditional,” she says. “Now I’m ready to try something new and modern again.”