By Hillary Latos.
Nicole Miller opened her first boutique on Madison Avenue nearly 30 years ago—which all started with her signature tie collection. Now an icon in the NY fashion industry, she has been an essential part of the evolution and explosive growth of the ever-changing, often fickle fashion landscape, while still remaining relevant and consistently growing her signature brand—as well as her diffusion brand.
Part of Miller’s success stems from her life as a New Yorker. While born in Fort Worth, Texas and raised in Massachusetts, she’s called New York home for much of her life. As such, she truly understands the uptown/downtown aesthetic of this diverse and unique city. She recently celebrated the 10-year anniversary of her nicole by Nicole Miller brand for JC Penney, an offshoot of her signature Nicole Miller collection. On hand to celebrate were longtime fashion friends, including Pat Cleveland, Roshumba Williams, and Carol Alt—who coincidentally walked in the nicole by Nicole Miller collection launch show.
Everything Nicole Miller has done is a reflection of her love of New York City, and we had the opportunity to discuss her work and her life when she welcomed us into her gorgeous Tribeca Loft, a treasure-trove of art and inspiration that epitomizes Nicole Miller’s vision and personality. She talked about her success as a designer, her evolution and rise to fame, as well as her most recent Spring Summer collection—and of course what she loves most about living in the greatest city in the world.
Hillary Latos: How do you feel your nicole by Nicole Miller line has evolved over the last decade?
Nicole Miller: My nicole by Nicole Miller line has evolved in so many ways over the last decade. Through designing the 10-year anniversary collection, I was able to look back over the past ten years and revisit popular prints and patterns that were very well received. The line has grown exponentially at JCPenney. The brand debuted in 2005 with a limited range of clothing items in 450 stores, and has since expanded to over 600 stores with a full collection ranging from apparel to accessories, handbags, outerwear, and more.
HL: What are some of your signature trademarks that are distinctly Nicole?
NM: Florals and animal prints have consistently been trademarks in nicole by Nicole Miller collections over the past ten years. Naturally, they continue to be featured in this limited edition collection, celebrating the 10-year evolution of the brand, but with a modern twist!
HL: What are some of the key silhouettes and materials and must-haves for this fall?
NM: This fall, some of my must-have pieces include bold prints with tribal, animal, and jewel references set against modern silhouette. Another must-have this fall is a tunic that you feel comfortable in, yet can be dressed up or dressed down with a perfect pair of heels!
HL: How has the street scene of NYC been woven throughout your collection since you started?
NM: I have often been inspired by the skyline and architectural details of the historic buildings. More recently, I used street art as a source of inspiration.
HL: Which neighborhoods in NYC do you find inspiration from, including for your latest Spring 2016 collection?
NM: I love the Lower East Side, West Village, Tribeca, and Bond Street.
HL: You’ve experienced the evolution of NY Fashion week since the 80s; what are the biggest changes you’ve seen over the years, and what do you think of it today?
NM: It really has gotten overwhelming. There used to be 40 shows—five days, eight shows per day. Now there are about 400. There has been a huge influx of international designers because you get so much attention showing here.
HL: From the time you launched your first line, did you have a grand plan to grow it to where it is today? And how have you rode the fickle wave of the fashion industry to stay on top?
NM: I had a loose plan and tweaked it along the way. It is a very fickle business, and you have to put blinders on, because very often the latest, greatest new designer is out of business the next season.
HL: If you were to give any advice to a designer starting out, what would it be?
NM: I would hope that they don’t end up behind the scenes at a celebrity-endorsed collection. Always try to be focused and have your own identity.
HL: What are your most iconic pieces, silhouettes, and prints that are carried through from season to season?
NM: My tucked and tidal pleated dresses are a staple of my collection; they are very body-conscious and figure-flattering. Also, I have fabrics that are not all over the market, such as my cotton metal, techno metal, and stretch linen.
HL: How would you describe your aesthetic?
NM: I think it is streamlined and not quirky. I love quirky fashion, but it is the first thing you discard next season—I don’t like clothes that look awkward.
HL: As a New Yorker and Hamptonite, what are your favorite places in the city, and what do you like to do during your free time?
NM: I love going to Nobu, Waverly Inn, Da Silvano, and Indochine. I love the Cooper Hewitt because they have such interesting shows. I really enjoy going to the various antique shows on the piers and gallery openings in Chelsea.
HL: What do you have planned for the future?
NM: Expanding our handbag and shoe lines, which have been doing really well. We are also getting back into the men’s market again.
To see more of Nicole’s lines visit: