Launched in 2010 by creative director and former menswear designer Nick Wakeman, Studio Nicholson is the ultimate fashion fusion of male and female. Intent on bringing together the classic cuts of mens tailoring with the softness of feminine couture, Nick has built a reputation for exquisite craftsmanship and sense of understated chic, an aesthetic she continues to evolve upon season after season.
Nick’s professional story starts with textiles, “I trained in textiles, so fabric is really what I studied. Then print, from there I worked at Diesel and went to work on menswear, learnt about denim, jersey, and casual wear” she tells Glasshouse when we meet on a sunny afternoon in her studio.
Long before Nick’s first job at a label though, the designer had already begun drawing and creating her own unique garments. Growing up with a mother who sewed all of her clothes, Nick began imagining what would eventually become her future creations from a very young age, “I used to sit there drawing ideas, and my mum would go make it. She’s trained as an interior designer, and she loves fabric. She really loves it. She gets really excited” Nick recalls fondly.
Nick’s mother wasn’t the only woman of style to influence her. The designer’s grass roots in fashion stretch back even further still, all the way to her grandmother – who she cites as one of her greatest muses. “The brand is pulled off of my grandmother. Nicholson is her maiden name, and my great grandmother’s married name. She was a nurse in WWI, and she always had this amazing long white hair and amazing clothes that looked like they could be Chanel. I remember the smell of her Estee Lauder lipstick, and her hair. She was incredibly stylish. The reason I’m called Nick is because everyone called her Nick.”
Nick cites Japanese designers Yohji Yamamoto and Comme des Garcons as some of her biggest creative idols, and has always been inspired by the fabrics of the country; “I like to use Japanese textiles and denim. It’s got a certain look to it that I love.”
This is a feeling that is reciprocated; Japan and other Asian countries now make up a big percentage of Studio Nicholson’s business. “I think they like a bit of fun, which is what I do, even though its elegant it’s got a fun element that they seem to get.”
After show casing at Fashion Weeks around the globe however, Nick’s ambitions stretch beyond the Asian market place, from Paris, to London and beyond. As a result, the designer finds herself travelling a lot. “The travel is a lot less glamorous than people imagine, just living out of a suitcase all the time” she admits. “Going between showrooms in London, then in Paris, New York. I’m starting to do Pre-fall ’15 now which will come out this time next year, so I’m already working around a year ahead of everything”
From idea, to drawing, to design, Nick is organised and meticulous in all that she does. Describing herself as a perfectionist, she rarely looks at other designer’s work using photo platform, Pinterest as a source of image inspiration, before stating that in the end it all comes back to the material. “It’s all fabric, literally. I don’t have mood boards. I wait to make my mood boards until the very end. They don’t come in the beginning. I don’t want to look at things, I just want to be really focused.”
So what else has the fabric obsessed designer got up her sleeve that sets her apart from the wealth of other womenswear labels on the market? Previously working as a menswear designer has given Nick a specialist insight in to the simple way in which men dress themselves, that continues to inform her creative process. “It’s more about the formula behind getting dressed. Grey, navy blue, white, black, that is all boys have in their wardrobe. They go to get dressed in the morning and its easy, and that’s what I try to do for women. Our standard pant is one of the main base pieces of the brand, we bring it out every season with a slight variation.”
In terms of her beauty regime, Nick takes a similarly black and white approach, “I’m a big believer that from your neck down you definitely absorb all the chemicals. So I use natural washing powders, bathing stuff and body creams. But on the face I use hyaluronic acid every morning!” Santa Maria Novella’s rose water is top of her must-have products, a gentle concoction from a brand founded in 1221 at a monastery in Florence, Italy.
With a label whose creations are both beautiful and functional, and a personal character that’s simultaneously humble yet sassy – Nick truly embodies the clothes that she so proudly makes. As we leave her studio to head back to the salon, we ask if she has any regrets? “No I don’t actually. I don’t regret anything.”