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A Day in Topanga with Nick Fouquet

As he moves his brand into ready-to-wear, the quintessentially Californian designer who made his name with hats kicks back with his friends and neighbors in his home in the Santa Monica Mountains

Words by KELSEY McKINNON
Photography by WE ARE THE RHOADS
Fashion Direction by REBECCA RUSSELL

 

The former model sporting looks from his Spring/Summer 2022 ready-to-wear collection, as friends repose on the home’s wraparound decks.

 

When milliner Nick Fouquet was looking for a new place to hang his hat, his only requirement was that it have high ceilings. His search led to a rare geodesic dome deep in Topanga Canyon with a three-story cupola that certainly fit the bill. Never mind that the structure bears a striking resemblance to a classic chapeau, with its soaring arch and wraparound decks — to Fouquet, it felt like the tree house he had always fantasized about. Perched on the deck in a linen Charvet shirt with a rainbow beanie in hand, the 39-year-old designer muses, “Remember those childhood dreams that you had when you were little, about living in a tree house, Swiss Family Robinson–style? I was like, ‘When I’m older, I’m gonna have that.’”

 

Rogers and Fouquet stand atop the glass railing of their three-story abode. 

 

Spend a few minutes with Fouquet and it becomes almost unthinkable that he ever lived in a square instead of a circle, confined by four walls and 90-degree angles like most people. He says he’s always been a bit unpredictable. “If someone’s like, ‘Oh, purple is gonna be the new color next year,’ I’m like, oh really? Cool. I’ll make sure not to do purple in anything,” he says with a laugh. “I’ll say, ‘Guys, we’re gonna do yellow.’”

 

Fouquet (center) in good company with friends (from left) Zen Nishimura, girlfriend Sarni Rogers, Tashia Fierce Roberts and Max Robinson — all wearing pieces from his collections.

 

Raised in southwest France, Fouquet got a degree in environmental science and sustainable development before following in his father’s footsteps as a professional model (his father, Bernard Fouquet, fronted campaigns for Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger). He bounced between South America, Europe, Australia, New York and Colorado before landing in Los Angeles in 2009, where he started his eponymous business out of his garage in Venice. Fouquet revitalized the ancient craft with an artistic approach: Sustainable beaver-felt fedoras are shaped and distressed by hand, then variously patchworked, embroidered, splattered with bleach or tie-dyed, before he adds painterly grosgrain ribbons, charms, chains or feathers and his signature single matchstick. He quickly garnered a cult following with celebrity clients ranging from LeBron James and David Beckham to Madonna and Cara Delevingne. In recent years, he’s collaborated with European houses including Borsalino, Rochas and Givenchy and upgraded to a gallery-like boutique and workshop on Abbot Kinney in 2019. Last year he opened a seasonal shop in Aspen that fortuitously came with a tiny apartment above it. (“I can’t believe I’m one of those people that are like, ‘I like Aspen better in the summer than the winter.’ It sounds so bougie, but it’s so dope. I have a dirt bike and rip around town.”)

 

“Clients would say, ‘I have the hat, now what’s the rest?’ ”

Nick Fouquet

 

Clockwise from top left: Exploring the wilds of the backyard. The kitchen features tiles from Heath Ceramics. A Fall/Winter 2022 hat. In the loft, he lounges on a custom STAHL + BAND sofa. Relaxing by the freeform pool. Neighbor Nishimura and his daughter, Alchemy. Fouquet in Spring/Summer 2022. LUCCHESE x NICK FOUQUET loafers. The LA Royal Palm hat from his Jungle Illuminations Spring/Summer 2022 line. The Window Pane hat, from the same collection.

 

Fouquet’s Spring/Summer 2022 hat collection, called Jungle Illuminations, is chockablock with tropical, Peter Beard-esque flora and fauna. Fouquet’s father stars in the campaign alongside Fouquet’s friend, legendary actor Anjelica Huston. (Fouquet and Huston happened to both be staying at their mutual friend Jimmy Buffett’s house in the Hamptons over the summer when the idea took root. Fouquet and Buffet are longtime friends from Palm Beach, Fla., where Fouquet’s mother lives and where he also spent a lot of time growing up.)

 

The designer plays cards with friends in the light-filled living room. 

 

While the pandemic forced many to slow down, Fouquet did the opposite, deciding it was the time to expand into ready-to-wear. “I said I’d never do it. Everyone does that and there’s too much of it. And then at one point I said, ‘I just don’t like anything out there,’” he remembers. At the same time, clients had been asking for years for a more stylistic experience. “They would always say, ‘Cool. I have the hat, now what’s the rest of the look?’” This spring, those questions are answered in his second collaboration with Italian designer Federico Curradi of men’s ready-to-wear, alongside a highly anticipated partnership with Lucchese, the iconic American footwear company, that includes unisex hats, scarves and reimagined cowboy boots — think ’70s-inspired black-cherry croc loafers and suede boots embroidered with a golden desert sunset. “The jelly to the peanut butter of what I do is cowboy boots, in a way,” Fouquet says. And come fall, he’s putting all his cards on the table with the launch of a full in-house RTW line. Pairing his dueling sensibilities — the rugged American West and the romance of southwestern France — the 80-piece menswear collection is a panoply of autumnal plaids, shearling coats, denim on denim, oversize knits and old-school corduroy trousers fit for a cultured cowboy (although many of the pieces are meant to be unisex).

 

The property is nestled in lush Topanga Canyon.

 

With the staggering amount of creativity that’s pouring out from the Venice studio, along with regular travel to Aspen and Italy (where the RTW line is being produced), Fouquet’s tranquil retreat in the canyon begins to make even more sense. The mini compound includes the main 1,800-square-foot dome, an ebonized Shou Sugi Ban pool house and a freeform pool, a stand-alone infrared sauna, a galvanized surf shed and quiet cobbled paths that wind through lemon and oak trees. Like his business, he saw the house as an opportunity to express himself. He posted up in the pool house for nearly two years while he modernized and expanded on the original footprint. As Fouquet puts it, “When I first got it, the house was Flintstones. And I said, ‘We gotta make it Jetsons.’”

 

Fouquet and friends bask in the natural light of the home.

 

Today, the clean, intimate space is filled with ceramics, books and Post-it notes. Fouquet shares the home with his girlfriend, Sarni Rogers; his sister lives down the street; and neighbors have become friends who drop by for coffee and hang out on the custom sofas by Jeffery Molter from Stahl + Band (who happens to be Fouquet’s neighbor on Abbott Kinney).

 

“The house was Flintstones.  I said, ‘We gotta make it Jetsons’ ”

Nick Fouquet

 

In the downstairs master bedroom, the headboard, bench and cushions are swathed in a psychedelic garden fabric from Fouquet’s spring collection last year. Likewise, steps on the spiral staircase are covered in an aquatic textile used in a past season. The barometer installed at the top of the banister is further evidence of Fouquet’s playfulness. “I feel like a big kid. If I could have put in a slide at the top of the dome or a fireman’s pole, I would have,” he says.

 

Fouquet and friends overlook the expansive canyon behind his serene property, where California oak trees abound.

 

Sitting down on a bench where he does his daily meditation, overlooking the rolling hills that extend for miles beyond his property, Fouquet says, “I had a client come into the shop recently and we were talking about meditation. I told her I always come and sit here for 10 or 15 minutes and close my eyes. Then she blew my mind, she said, ‘Why close your eyes? Why don’t you look at the birds and clouds?’ I was like, ‘Oh my God, she’s right.’ Why close your eyes when this is so beautiful?”

 

Hair by BERENZ using Oribe.
Makeup by DIANE DUSTING using CHANEL Les Beiges.
Special thanks to DONNI.

 

 

Feature image: A carefree day at Fouquet’s retreat in the Santa Monica Mountains. Pieces from the designer’s past collections have been carefully integrated into the design of the home. Of note: An aquatic textile used in a past season covers the steps of a spiral staircase.

 

This story originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of C Magazine.

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