Most of you are familiar with fashion designer Nicole Miller’s popular wedding designs, but there’s so much more to know about this icon of the fashion industry. For one thing, she is coming to town. On Tuesday, April 27, she will be in Nashville as the featured designer for a special fashion show to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. I had a chance to talk with her the other day, and what a treat – she is smart, opinionated and quite defined about fashion and what constitutes good design. And she is equally forthcoming about the things she does not like in her industry.
Nicole Miller has built a solid reputation when it comes to innovative women’s fashion. She was one of the first to present a less expensive line to the general public, through a partnership with JC Penney. Miller has proven she can run a business (annual sales in excess of $600 million , expand her lines and continue to bring innovation to the fashion industry.
Miller’s directness over the phone is understandable: she’s a New Yorker, a mother, and is used to the fast-paced, dog-eat-dog culture of the fashion business.
I asked her who influenced her sense of style and fashion as a young girl. Undoubtedly, it was her Parisian mother who read French fashion magazines, who had an impeccable sense of style and who was as opinionated as Nicole.
“Oh, did you play dress up with your Barbie dolls growing up?” I asked. “Barbies weren’t allowed in the house,” she said. But she told me with affection the names of her French dolls: Martine, Francoise and Nadia.
As I studied her spring line, now available at The Cotton Mill, it is evident Nicole Miller understands what is flattering and enhances the female body. Her clothes are incredibly easy to wear and reflect the many influences in her life: her classical training in the art of couture in Paris, her love of contemporary art and her sense of fashion risk.
The designs are edgy but versatile. She continues to experiment in her fashion laboratory bringing innovation to her designs.
We discussed Americans and their sense of style, or perhaps, lack of style. Miller pondered why Americans dress they way they do and for lack of a better word, dress so “preppy”. “Americans are not risky when it comes to fashion,” she said. I asked her if she thought Americans’ conservative dress culture is due to the popularity of chains like J.Crew and The Gap which may have resulted in us dressing in uniforms. “Not really. Culturally, Americans are just safe.”
I was curious to know if there were a piece of clothing she would recommend for us to buy as an investment piece. You know – pay the big bucks, reap the fashion reward. “That is absolutely backwards thinking,” she said. “It is a way for you to rationalize spending too much for something you’ll probably never wear. I bought a goat coat (and paid a fortune) from Fred Segal in LA, and it still hangs in my closet barely worn.” (Hate that — Liza and I plan to tell her about our consignment sale which we will hold again….)
Miller is a huge art collector, with a collection including works from Damian Loeb. She is clearly passionate about contemporary art. She’s also a gourmet chef. I couldn’t resist asking her what would she prepare for a celebrity dinner party and more important, who would get a seat at the table, either living or dead. “I absolutely love ethnic foods, probably Vietnamese or Mexican…depending on who is coming over. For fashion designers, I would prepare a country French meal with rack of lamb.”
To invite? I may have Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Claude Montana, of course, Alexander McQueen. Let’s see, there is no woman — add Chantal Thomas. There!”
My final question to Nicole was to ask her if there was anything she wanted to share with StyleBlueprint readers that may surprise us. “I buy everything online,” she said. “You buy everything?”, I repeated. “Yes, everything.”
After our interview, I hung up the phone and thought, you have to be one tough cookie to be successful in the fashion industry. If you don’t believe me, tune into Project Runway where you can see the sweet and demure Heidi Klum take someone to their knees because the sleeve is wrong.
If you are interested in seeing Nicole Miller’s collection, stop by the Cotton Mill in Bandywood. Liza and I couldn’t resist stopping by to select our favorite dresses from her collection. Pretty amazing, don’t you think?
As for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Fashion Show, it’s going to be a great evening and a cause worth supporting. At this press date, tickets cost $75 and are still available. Contact Lesley McMahan [email protected] for more information.
Enjoy your weekend! Be safe with the weather, and be sure to check out our April Events Page…..we’ve added information on the Naked Without Us Boutique Crawl going on Fri the 23rd and one of our favorite Nashville Fashion Blogs is helping to sponsor: Stella Shops!