American Fashion Icon Nicole Miller Shares How The Industry Has Changed
An iconic American fashion designer, Nicole Miller has graced the industry with her signature graphic prints and innovative silhouettes. Miller’s Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Collection headlines the second part of the Underground Lauderdale Fashion Weekend series held in Fort Lauderdale’s FATVillage from March 30 to April 2, bringing together fashion influencers and enthusiasts. We spoke with Miller prior to the event about her design inspiration, a day-in-the-life and the behind-the-scenes at a runway show.
What sparked your interest in fashion?
My mother was from Paris, so she was very chic and always had French fashion magazines arriving from Europe, usually two months late because they came by boat. Early on I was very interested. I went to school in Paris for a year, and then I also went to Rhode Island School of Design.
How have things changed since you started in the fashion industry?
I have to say today I don’t love it as much as I have loved it, but I always have a great time because I have a great staff, and I love the creative process. For me, I’m very involved in the design process—everything from the prints to the silhouettes. In essence, I have the background both technically and artistically between design school and couture school in Paris. ... A lot of the fashion business is about hype these days. Every celebrity has a clothing line, every socialite has a clothing line. And you know what happens [is] they come and go with it, but I’m still here.
What is a typical day like for you?
It varies. Some days we have fittings. We work from collection to collection. Sometimes it’s more about inspiration and finding a great idea. And then after it’s a great idea, then I try to conceptualize the prints I’m going to use. Meanwhile, I’m doing fabric research to find new fabric, find new technological advances to work with. I’m also working on new silhouettes all the time. I’m in-between these things. There’s always a sketch pad at my desk. I’m always sketching as well.
You will be showing your Spring 2017 Collection at Underground Lauderdale. What inspired the line?
The spring was Panamanian molas [which are colorful, multi-layered paneled blouses worn by Kuna women of Panama]. I bought these Egyptian molas from an art gallery and that was the inspiration for that. (Editor’s note: Miller will also show pieces from her new beach collection, La Plage, which is French for beach.)
How is showing the spring collection in South Florida different from NYC’s Fashion Week?
Well, it will be a lot less stressful that’s for sure. Fashion shows are always very stressful. There’s always some crazy thing that can go wrong. The music gets stuck or a girl trips, or someone breaks a heel. There’s always worries about something that you can’t control.
This year [during the Fall 2017 Collection show at New York Fashion Week] the funniest thing happened. I went to get my lint roller because some of the clothes were wool, and I wanted to make sure they were all de-linted before they went out on the runway. I am the last person to check them on their way out, so I go to grab the lint brush and it was one of those tape ones, and it was stuck to a seam ripper. The seam ripper goes flying out in the middle of the runway, and the show had just started. So, I had to make a decision whether to send someone in to grab it, like get a hanger and bring it back, have a model kick it or leave it alone. ... So I thought, ‘Ignore it.’ I was tearing my hair out backstage because of the stupid seam ripper.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a fashion designer?
I have no idea, but I’m always obsessed with cooking. That’s my hobby. Cooking, and I do a lot of water skiing. ... But my de-stress hobby is to cook at home. I love cooking and entertaining. So who knows, I could have had a restaurant.
Off the Runway: Nicole Miller’s Spring 2017 Ready-to-Wear Collection