The WILD Magazine Woman issue
H E I D I L E E ‘S ATOMIC UNIVERSE
interview: Nick Cope
It still hasn’t fully sunken in yet, this honor that’s been bestowed upon me. To be associated with the likes of Miucci Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli for the Met’s Impossible Conversations has been a sureal dream. I was even surprised when they gifted me (among many other prizes) with a Prada bag as well as a Letter of Recognition signed by the Curator in Charge of the Met Museum’s Costume Institute, Harold Koda. I hope to continue to take further strides towards innovative thinking and design in the world of Fashion and beyond..
What influences your millnery?
Well, I try to pull from a vast assortment of life studies as well as from my own life experiences… ranging from marine biology to the sensation you first feel when you fall head over heels in love. Each hat is a memento, paying homage to a eulogy of thoughts from a certain time and place, encapsulating a narrative of sentiment and magic.
Speak a bit about Alexander McQueen? Salvador Dali? Yayoi Kusama?
Alexander McQueen? Salvador Dali? Yayoi Kusama? They all possess extreme passion, workaholic compulsions, perfectionistic discipline, wild imaginations of epic fancy, and an uncompromising grasp for beauty. Not to mention a bit of spicy, controversial character to liven things up. They were multi-disciplinary visionaires that looked beyond their peers for inspiration, who boldly questioned and raised the bar of what living art could mean. I find my work strongly aligning with their sensibilities.
Am I right to say that your work is psychedelic? I mean this in the classical sense in that the designs are inspired by altered states of being.
Salvador Dali once said, “I don’t do drugs, I am drugs.” If I look at a piece of art, and my brain starts to tingle, where I can feel neurons flickering off like a chain of firecrackers, the artwork in my opinion is fullfilling it’s sole purpose- to bring the viewer into unchartered states of being, to lift the veil of reality, and to open up the doors of perception, triggering a spiritual awakening. If my hats are able to evoke the same intensity of response, while they are worn and loved by their owners, I’m a happy clam.
What is your ultimate ambition as a designer? Art or style?
My ultimate ambition as a designer is to bring back the culture of wearing hats, and to revive the craft of making hats on the level of Haute Couture, by injecting them with equal portions of art and style, which is how Coco Chanel and Lanvin first began their careers as Fashion houses.
Do “hat people” have anything in common?
People who are known to wear hats regularly carry an air of distinction when they enter a room. It can be seen as an extension or reflection of their personality or a guise of mystery and intrigue. I find that they tend to be adventurous thinkers, a bit more experimental and versatile than most folks.
Is there any brand that you could see yourself designing for like Stephen Jones has with Marc Jacobs and Galliano?
I would love to design hats for Alexander McQueen, Iris Van Herpen, or Mary Katrantzou. I’ve already begun discussing possible collaborative opportunities with ThreeAsFour for the near future.
What hat are you specifically working on now?
My Atomic Universe hat. It’s inspired by a rare gift called Synesthesia, which is when a person sees letters and numbers visualized as specific colors, sounds, textures, shapes, and forms. It’s an overlapping of the senses in the mind’s eye. I wanted to capture what this hidden mind-map or landscape could be like manifested in the physical world. The colorful LED’s swirling around my hat are a visceral, yet tactile interpretation of what computing a sequence in an algorithim or reading notes in a musical scale could literally look like for a synesthete. Moreover, when you wear one of my atomic universe hats, you’re transformed into a living, breathing work of kinetic art, pulsating and radiating a dazzling spectrum of whirling lights. Choreography or impovisation in numbers, can also interplay in unexpected ways in the performance aspect of wearing this hat, as your body begins to move in sync with the revolutions of the hat. The real joy and beauty and genius of the hat lies in sharing this fantastic, eye-catching phenomenon with the people surrounding you.
If I were to discover a portal into your mind a la Malkovich what might we see on the other side of that tiny door?
Sometimes called “the seat of the soul” or “the mystical vessel of understanding and imagination”- the mind and hats are like a pea in a pod. I’m still trying to figure out what’s really behind that tiny portal door into my mind. I’ve found solace in imagining an endless rabbit hole of revolving mirrors.
Androgynous Supermodel Andrej Pejic for H E I D I L E E
» The Prettiest Boy in the World
photo: Charlie Engman
styling: Guillaume Boulez
cocktail parasol hat: H E I D I L E E
hair: Bryce Scarlett
makeup: Yasuo Yoshikawa