Tuesday, December 7, 2010

JBCStyle: Nicole Miller Bacchus Style

"I know what is to come by the principle on which it is built. The creator stands on his own judgement. I am an architect."
-Howard Roark, The Fountainhead

If you go to her website, you will discover (in the designer's own handwriting) that Nicole Miller loves mid-century furniture, collecting contemporary art, and is inspired by the modernist and fluid works of reknowned architects and industrial designers. John Lautner is a favorite. The standard biography exists but is not necessary; she's been at the vanguard of American fashion for nearly three decades. Being at the forefront, however, has involved a delicate, yet precise ability to navigate between tradition and modernity in order to charter a bold, new path. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and the prestigious Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, Nicole has been a pioneer from the beginning. Her 1986 Madison Avenue boutique was a harbinger of the designer retreat from large department stores to eponymous boutiques in search of creative freedom and independence. She was the first to put actresses such as Minnie Driver, Gretchen Mol and Jilly Hennessy on the runway in lieu of models, and created a Fashion Week sensation. Today the line includes outerwear, bridalwear, golfwear, accessories, cosmetics, a Bed Bath & Beyond home line and has boutiques nationwide. She is the little black dress.

The lithe, jean-clad designer stands in the middle of her showroom, her hair - Howard Roark red - makes her impossible to miss. She's sketching. She's draping. She's. . .designing. "Hi," she smiles warmly. "Welcome to my showroom."

"I wore Nicole Miller for my Bar Mitzvah," Bryan Zaslow returns, grinning. "Now my wine bottles are wearing Nicole Miller."

We balked a month back at asking Nicole Miller to make an exclusive sketch for JBCStyle's holiday wine bottles. The request was finally made straightforwardly - and the response was very Miller:


When the crates finally shipped, there was no question who the first recipient would be - the long, one block journey was well worth it.

Nicole is kicked to see her latest "look" and waves us over for a tour of the office. The space is an explosion of color and activity - seamstresses, fit models, yards of fabric, sewing machines. . . it's all happening right here. A model floats in an ethereal, floor-length number and we wait as Nicole instructs, "Maybe pull up the hem here. But leave this open here. . ." she trails off and gesticulates how the fabric should rise and fall. It's as natural as a wave breaking, and as beautiful to watch. It's incomparable - the enjoyment of watching someone who loves what they do. . . just do. So it's still really her - not just a name and a label, but the product of a designer at work, creating pieces for the joy and appreciation of creation. In her office shelves rise from floor to ceiling, showcasing a lifetime of books, sources of inspiration, records, and countless photos and cards from fans, loved ones, and most notably her son, Palmer, who shares his mother's brilliant red hair and easy smile.

A little black dress or casual sportwear. . .Nicole Miller is timeless
Recruiting for the fashion and retail world has a revived vigor; no email, text, or phone call can replace the shared experience of a personal greeting. We leave Nicole's office with the designer's signature fragrance - just the right hit of floral and warmth - apple cider style - and look forward to the upcoming weeks of holiday cheer, and a smooth glass of red.

Miller Style.

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