Stacey Vest has been making wigs for 17 years, but these are not typical hairpieces. In one of her latest creations, faux leaves, flowers, and jewels pile upward and outward on blonde and blue strands, Marie Antoinette-style. Her work has always been inspired by the Club Kids scene from the ’90s. “It was a lot of self-expression, dancing, and non-gender-specific ways of decorating yourself,” Vest says. “I was going to parties, and I’d see someone dressed in a head-to-toe suit with spikes coming out, and I’d think, I want to know that person. Meanwhile I was the kid putting battery-pack Christmas lights down my pants.”
Resourceful engineering in pursuit of self-expression is at the heart of Vest’s artistic vision today, and her Covington storefront-studio, East to Vest Productions, is bursting with evidence. Everywhere you look, something is being repurposed, reimagined: Straws and pool noodles turned dramatic, elegant headdresses, and thousands of multicolored condoms sewn together to form dresses just begging to be twirled. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—Vest has ideas blooming for plastic bags and bird cages, old buttons and giant googly eyes. She seems to view the world as if she’s constantly asking, How could this become unforgettable?
Vest’s creations will make you stand out in a crowd, but Vest’s philosophy is about more than just getting attention. Ultimately, she’s dedicated to helping people declare themselves the instant they walk in the room—to show the parts of themselves the world has told them to ignore or suppress.
Vest may draw her inspiration from Club Kids gone by, but she has her eye to the future as well. In the short term, she’s working on coming up with ways to foster creative expression and arts accessibility for people of all ages. In the long term, she plans to break the Guinness World Record for the tallest wig. Count on it happening: She’s already got a muscle man on standby, ready to hoist 50 feet of self-expression onto his (substantial) shoulders.
East to Vest Productions, 10 W. Pike St., Covington, stacey-vest.squarespace.com