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Heather Huey, FCLC ’02

Heather Huey is a 2002 alumna of Fordham College at Lincoln Center.

From a corner in her parents’ living room in Queens, Heather Huey, FCLC ’02, fashions hats—from cloches and fedoras to far-out couture pieces—that have been featured in Elle and Harper’s Bazaar magazines, and been worn by Grammy Award-winning soul singer Erykah Badu.

She also collaborated with Christian Siriano, season-four winner of the reality TV show Project Runway, by creating hand-sewn hats for his well-received Fall 2009 New York Fashion Week show in Manhattan’s Bryant Park.

“I utilize both classic millinery techniques and experimental ones,” said Huey, a founding member of the Milliners Guild, a group of New York City hatmakers working to keep their trade alive. “You could say I’m ‘new school.’”

Huey’s calling to millinery, though, was not always clear. At Fordham, she majored in visual arts with a concentration in architecture and a minor in art history. Colin Cathcart, her former professor and adviser, is not surprised that Huey is making her mark in the fashion world.

“She always was a marvelous thinker and had high standards for sculptural integrity,” said Cathcart, associate professor of architecture and associate director of the environmental studies program at FCLC. “And she was the best dressed architect in the class.”

After graduating summa cum laude, Huey registered for a basic sewing class and Millinery I at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in spring 2003. She quickly discovered an aptitude for the craft—and a connection between stitching hats and constructing buildings, both of which rely on a strong sense of composition, texture and structure.

“I’m a builder of form,” she said. “I think and design in three dimensions, considering every angle and curve to the overall statement I’m trying to make.”

Huey left FIT in 2004, determined to make it as a milliner. “As far as the fashion business went, I soon found out I knew less than nothing,” she said. But she was willing to learn from her mistakes. After a year, she introduced the Heather Huey hat collection at New York’s 2005 Couture Fashion Week. A business relationship with Bluefly.com blossomed in 2006, when the online retailer contacted her to provide little cocktail hats for a dress campaign. She keeps her growing hat collection on display in a “humble showroom,” she said, in the back of the Chinatown Wellness Center in Manhattan, an herbal and acupuncture store, which her father co-owns.

Despite her success, Huey sees work to be done. “I want to leave my mark as an innovator in millinery, redefining the art of hat making,” she said. “Eventually I’ll get there.”

   

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