The Ballad Of Claire's Bespoke Hat

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They say that good things come to those who wait. That's true, but sometimes you have to be really persistent about following up via email first. This is not a beauty story, but it is about the beauty of human communication. And about hats.

Spring or summer of 2014, I went to an after-work party with Citizens of Humanity—not only was it at Miss Lily's (yum), but everyone who attended got to draw a raffle ticket with a prize. There were jeans, naturally, but also sculptures by LA-based artists that I was already picturing in my apartment by the time it was my turn to draw. I ended up winning something unexpected—the kind of thing I'd never buy for myself but that I'd be glad to have: a bespoke hat by the one and only Nick Fouquet. He's a hat-maker based in Venice Beach who describes himself as “Part human part animal. French with a Huck Finn spirit. Part Native American and part psychedelic adventurer. And I will always be a gentleman.” I can't attest to the first bit as we only met once, but he's a nice guy who has a pretty California surfer vibe and pretty perfect blond hair—but that's beside the point. The bottom line here is that he makes terribly beautiful hats. I'd just won the hat lottery of my lifetime.

After the party, I sent off a few screenshots of what I was after. Think Suki Waterhouse going to the airport but a little less floppy. A bit later, I received a fitting kit—I measured the exact circumference of my head with a giant plastic tool that made me look kind of like a planet. I screwed it into place, and then sent it back to Nick (by the way—if you're after a hat available more immediately, consider Rag & Bone or Aritzia).

And then I waited. And waited. I totally get it though...Nick's got other people—celebrities, really—that he's working with. Gigi Hadid, Madonna, you know. I decided early on that I wanted to write about my peculiar hat experience for the site, so every so often I'd follow up with him in hopes of getting the story done, and of getting my hat, of course. And every few months I'd get an email like the below, sometimes sent from Mexico or Paris, or just from his studio.

Hey Darlin,

I apologize for the incredible delay…. You have not been forgotten… We're sending your hat out next week. Promise. Thanks for your extreme patience. Nick

It took about a year. I never met my deadline (of last fall). But then it arrived! And I started wearing it everywhere—it's black felt with a subtle band so it goes with almost everything. I want to wear it every day for the rest of my life, but I can't, 'cause I took it off at my best friend's house before going out and haven't gotten a chance to pick it up since. I'll get it back eventually. It did take me several months to email Nick after the raffle in the first place, after all.

—Claire Knebl

Claire Knebl photographed by Tom Newton.

More hat suggestions from Claire are just five to seven business days away.