For many, hats are a utilitarian necessity, something pulled reluctantly out of the closet with the first frost. For others, hats are living creations, the frame under which an entire outfit is composed. It is for these people that Heather Huey designs. A self-described hermit and helpless-romantic, Heather Huey is a modern-day milliner who has swooped into the fashion world and bewitched its inhabitants. After receiving a degree in architecture, Heather fell in love with millinery and began designing pieces without any formal training in fashion. For the first three years of her career she worked solely with couture hats and headpieces, which were recognized early on as both visionary and nostalgic. Then, Heather ventured “below the neck,” constructing breathtaking body sculptures that coil, cascade, and hold one captive. From her now-famous Cages project to her Braids and Curves, Heather’s sculptures are hypnotically animate, creating ghost spaces, lost limbs, and new skins.
Her most recent project Cocoon features a series of sculptures that were molded from her own body. These soft, organic, sometimes writhing pieces seem to grow directly from the inside of the wearer. “With sculpture,” Heather muses, “you can carve away or build up. This was building up.” Created over a long winter, Heather’s cocoons were formed from recycled felt scraps. Layering herself bit by bit, each cocoon forged itself from the leftover sediments of Heather’s hats. The choice to use such a sustainable method was not a decision of convenience, but something that seems to be a part of Heather’s very fabric. “I was raised to never waste,” she writes, “that almost anything has the potential to be ‘re-fashioned.’ I started making an effort to use my ever-growing felt/straw scraps and found objects as trim for my hats, but I sought to apply the recycling/sustainability factor on a much larger scale. The Cocoon project allowed me to do that and thus broke open the door for me to be creative on a more eco-conscious level.” This project, she divulges, is the first of many upcoming ventures into sustainable design. Keep your eye on this milliner. Her sculptures make you swoon, her hats remind you of the days when “the guy gets the girl who looked polished from head to toe,” and her brilliant future in eco-fashion is just beginning.