Entrepreneurial spirits tend to live their lives pursuing their ideas and converting a lifelong passion into a thriving career through a series of obstacles to acquire what they want in life.
Fashion designer Nicole Miller is a name that has become synonymous with American fashion. Since 1982, her designs have taken the world by storm with her signature style. Which has played around with sultry black or boldly colored with structurally cut designs. Bringing in sexy and classic at the same time.
Miller draws inspiration from her love of contemporary art, mid-20th century cinema, architecture, different cultures, and finally her mother, who initiated Nicole into the world of fashion during her formative years. Having studied the techniques of fabric draping and classical technique of couture at The École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Since then, Nicole Miller scaled to the top of New York’s social ladder and became part of the creme de la creme of the international fashion industry,
But what is so inspiring about getting to know Nicole is her down to earth and authentic character. She is a true artist, mentor, wife, mother and loyal friend. Truth, passion and authenticity are what we look for in gurus.
We are honored to speak with such a legend as Nicole Miller who lets us into her artistic world, who and what inspires her designs, post covid fashion and what is next for the design icon.
Robyn Newmark: Nicole, you are an American fashion icon. A global brand builder and now an international household name. After a lifetime of dedication to the fashion industry, you are in almost every household now from clothing to home goods to makeup. What first started your passion for fashion?
Nicole Miller: I’ve had a passion for as long as I can remember. My mother was from Paris. In the house, there were all these great pictures of herself in Paris wearing the most fabulous clothing. So I became obsessed with fashion. My mother was very chic and much taller than me. She was a stunning woman and I adored her style. We always subscribed to French fashion magazines like Marie Claire. They would get delivered to the house and we looked forward to them coming each month. So I grew up influenced by all the European designers.
Robyn Newmark: How special that your mother is your first fashion icon. What were some of your other mentors or gurus growing up as far as fashion?
Nicole Miller: I was very influenced early on by the French fashion designers, like Pierre Cardin, Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld. Then the years I lived in Paris – Kenzo Takado came onto the scene. It was Kenzo, Claude Montana, Thierry Mugler and Chantel Thomass who brought the new wave of young contemporary designers. They were the Kings of Fashion. That was a very exciting and dynamic time in Paris. It was the first time that fashion wasn’t just Haute Couture. They were the breakaway crew who started to make wearable clothing for everyone. It was a true renaissance in fashion so I always found that time period very exciting.
Robyn Newmark: Would you consider that one of the most influential periods of your life, or if not, what would be the most influential?
Nicole Miller: For me, it’s hard to say one thing but I can say my favorite period in fashion is the sixties. I just loved all that 60s Mod vibe with Twiggy and bright colors. It was exuberant and fun. I thought that was always a great and very distinctive period in fashion because not all periods of fashion are so clean cut. It was so strong and visual.
Robyn Newmark: How has COVID-19 changed the fashion industry?
Nicole Miller: The truth is it keeps changing and it has for a while now. At first, it just made everybody more casual and everybody was sitting there in their sweatpants with a pretty blouse or whatever! But now that the pandemic is over we are moving away from the feminine girly stuff to you know… flaunting it! Look at Rihanna and her maternity fashion, everybody is bearing it all!
Robyn Newmark: Have you gone more casual in your designs in your own brand since COVID?
Nicole Miller: Only for that time period. We definitely had more casual clothing and we did a lot of yoga clothes. But I wasn’t trying to compete with the people that really do sweat suits.
Robyn Newmark: And what, what would you say is your favorite thing to design?
Nicole Miller: A dress. I love them because you don’t have to put anything with them. If you design pants or a skirt you have to think about what goes over it. It’s a lot of moving parts.
“A dress to me is like a painting. It’s one complete vision from start to finish. There is nothing better than a beautifully designed dress.”
Our company is back to focusing on dresses at this point especially because events are back and everybody’s going out again. Dresses are truly our niche and speciality. Everything from wedding dresses to occasion dresses and even club dresses.
Robyn Newmark: You are known for always wearing your sunglasses. We even shot you for the magazine with them. Can you tell us about the signature sunglasses that you always wear?
Nicole Miller: Yes I have always worn my sunglasses. I do change them from time to time. Most of the time they are prescriptions. They are my signature look. I don’t think anyone would recognize me without them. ( laughing)
Robyn Newmark: So you have become a legend on your own as well as mentored many well-known designers. What is the future focus of the Nicole Miller brand?
Nicole Miller: Mentoring is something I’ll always keep doing. I love working with interns. It makes me smile to see people go on to be successful
Robyn Newmark: Can you talk to us about some of the future projects?
Nicole Miller: We have a lot of licensing partners now so I get to work on things like furniture, bedding and children’s wear. we’re always working to make it a more cohesive strategy.
Robyn Newmark: What would you say to a new designer coming up in the field? Do you have any advice?
Nicole Miller: Things have really changed. New designers will be competing against actresses that have their own clothing line, they’ll be competing against influencers and a lot of people, not just other designers anymore.
They’re going to be very involved with social media, you know, and they’ll have to, you know, be able to create a strong presence for themselves. I think it’s not just about design anymore, it’s about having a good story to tell. Everyone wants to be inspired and you have to have a good “why”?
Robyn Newmark: Is that what you look for in people that you mentor?
Nicole Miller: Not at all! I think I’m still just looking for talent. *Laugh*
Robyn Newmark: There is still nothing better than raw talent.
Nicole Miller: Intelligence and talent, that serves me. I appreciate the efforts and how beneficial it is to have great social media. But when it comes to designing, I prefer to have somebody who’s an artist and can truly design.
Robyn Newmark: What do you think makes you stand out from other designers?
Nicole Miller: I feel like I’m a very technical designer. I went to art school, so I have an art background and I went to Couture school in Paris. So I’m far more technical than most designers out there. I can still technically make anything and can do any job that anybody who works for me does. Not that I’d want to anymore *laugh*
But because I have such an eye for craftsmanship I know the quality of my work and my brand will always be high.
Robyn Newmark: That is actually quite amazing you can really jump in and fulfil any part of the job.
Nicole Miller: I certainly did during COVID! we were sewing, tie-dying, embroidering things…everything! It was a strange time but also kinda fun.
Robyn Newmark: For a woman who has done it all, what is next for you?
Nicole Miller: My main inspiration has been travel lately. I was able to — I went to Thailand just before covid and it really inspired me to create a resort wear line which was timely for covid. I think in the future I would like to focus on travel and leisure wear. I like to design for comfort but still look sophisticated. I’m also into painted prints and colors. It’s time we brighten up and have more fun. At this point in my life, I just want to inspire people to thrive and live well. I have been so fortunate in life I just want to pass on what I can and make this world a more beautiful place. Life is so precious and too short to live any other way.
To find products by Nicole Miller go to NicoleMiller.com
Article by Robyn Newmark, The Hollywood Beauty Guru