8 Questions With Nicole Rose Design

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One of the standout designers at the annual Vancouver Alternative Arts & Fashion Week has been Nicole Rose Design, who made it into Style by Fire’s list of Top 10 Looks two years in a row.

Specializing in highly embellished and fantastical creations, I had a chat with the mastermind behind the brand, Nicole Rose (surprise!), and learned a little bit about her and her design process.

1. Describe the moment when you knew you wanted to be a clothing designer. How old were you?

I think I was 18 – I was planning on going into sciences, but my mother saw my potential as an artist and suggested interior design. As soon as she mentioned arts as a possible professional direction, fashion design immediately came to mind. I had always been crafty with clothing and was always playing around with store bought patterns and creations of my own.

2. Little known fact – a leather bustier is surprisingly comfortable! I received so many compliments on it; can you describe the process of making it?

This type of leather is known as vegi-tan or “saddle” leather. It was quite the process! First, I shaped the leather using a method called water forming to attain the desired shape. After cutting the excess leather off, I used a special heavy weight industrial machine to stitch the different pieces of leather together.

I then etched the images onto the leather with a hot tool, then painted them by hand, much like a painter does on a canvas. The small shells and bits of jewelry were then embedded, after which the entire bustier was finished off with a sealing layer of wax.

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3. As a designer, what are you best at? 

I am most passionate about transforming avant garde and fantastical ideas into wearable art. I am particularly adept at incorporating a mixture of fabrication using standard sewing/design techniques, and finishing them off with a massive amount of embellishments. My specialty pieces are corsets, lingerie, evening gowns, bridal, and specialty pieces like leather armour and wire armature.

4. If you’re ever experiencing a creative block, what do you do to try and get yourself out of it?

I usually try to pick the next easiest route for myself, such as taking care of client alterations, or organizing my stock and re-arranging my work space. Methodical tasks also help me, like taking care of the continuous small jobs involved in designing and filing away the leftovers of old projects, etc.

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5. What’s the craziest situation or experience you’ve had so far in your career?

I would have to say there are plenty! So far it would have to be my most recent experience working under a master tailor from Italy in a high-paced environment learning all new techniques within 6 months with no down time to be able to absorb it all! There were some seriously intense days. I am grateful for such a valuable opportunity and use all of the advanced techniques I have learnt in my everyday work.

6. Who’s your dream client?

Someone who wants to own one of my magnificent animal-inspired wire armature head pieces! Someone who has some sort of idea as to what she wants in order to help me design the perfect piece for her, that is representative of both of us.

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7. What’s one piece of advice you would give to a designer who’s just starting out?

Don’t give up! It can be tough out there and there are a lot of people who will try to get you down! Also NEVER stop working under other people, take their advice and utilize their experience. Work with as many different people as possible – everyone will have at least one nugget of knowledge for you to carry onward that will help to develop your style and niche. Always try to do better, but also be able to critique your own work in a positive way.

8. What’s next for Nicole Rose Design?

I will be taking a break with fashion shows for at least a year. I have some ideas brewing and I want to be able to take the time to conjure up what I want to do next. The main things I want to focus on now include getting my website up and running, as well as an Etsy site.

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Nicole Rose
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Collection shown at VALT 2016

All look photos by Jason Chang Photography

Aurora Chan

Writer & Photographer

Aurora Chan is a photographer, writer, actress, and model. She’s always loved fashion and the art of photography. By age 10, she was stealing her mother’s Vogue magazines and taking pictures with her first camera.

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