Fashion / Style File

Tootsies Hosts Ready-to-Wear Designer Nicole Miller

BY // 05.27.15
photography James Edward

Although she was born in Fort Worth, Nicole Miller says that she knows Dallas better — and apparently the Design District most of all: Her two favorite restaurants in the city are Oak and FT33. While in town for a personal appearance at Tootsies and to co-host the Children’s Health Legacy of Love Benefit and Fashion Show Kickoff, the designer dished on the Brazilian inspiration behind her Spring 2015 collection, her Parisian schooling and why she wishes men still had more fun with fashion.

Your Spring 2015 collection is so pretty and vibrant.
It was all based on Rio. It’s very colorful and festive. We used the Copacabana sidewalk as inspiration. That sidewalk is actually made of tiles. Every white section, there’s a million little white tiles in it.

What about Fall 2015?
Fall is really fun because I was trying to do something different. I wanted to do something with a forest theme, but I didn’t want to get too fairy-tale. I started looking at mythic arts books — some of those The Last Apprentice books and the illustrations. I wanted to give the collection kind of a dark vibe. It’s like the darkness of the woods.

What did you learn from your studies at l’École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture Parisienne in Paris and the Rhode Island School of Design?
It was a good combination of educations. The French school was all about discipline. [It taught me] a strict couture technique, whereas RISD was more about creativity and experimentation. I got the best of both worlds, which is really good for an education.

In your career, what are some of the moments that have stood out to you?
The first fashion show was a great high. My business partner never wanted to have fashion shows. One year, we compromised with the idea of our retail store. We opened a store on Madison Avenue, and that appeased me for a while. But the funny thing was that when we opened the store, I decided to make accessories, so I made all these scarves and ties. I got kind of famous for men’s ties back in the early ’90s, and a lot of people thought I started out with men’s. We had a huge tie business until men started getting conservative and didn’t want to have fun anymore.

It’s funny you say that, because one of my good friends says her dad only wears Nicole Miller ties.
They were huge in Texas, and they were really big at Neiman Marcus. I remember coming to Neiman Marcus for a personal appearance, and there were 200 people waiting for me to sign their ties.

Has your aesthetic remained true to your brand throughout your career? Or has it evolved?
It’s funny because lately, my assistants and I have been watching my old fashion shows, which started in 1991. What’s interesting is there are certain things I always do the same way. There’s this certain neckline that I used, then got away from, then brought back. It was interesting to see the show from 1993 — it looked so current, like you’d wear that today.

What do you enjoy wearing?
In the office, I’m usually in skinny leggings and a shirt, and I like to have layers.

You travel so often — do you enjoy it?
Yes! I just went to St. Barts for spring break with my husband and son. It was really fun. I’ll go any place in the United States. I have the most fun going to New Orleans, but I love coming to Texas, San Diego, L.A., Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Charleston. There are so many great cities in the U.S.; I like when they have more personality. In the South, every area has personality.

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