Photography by Piczo
April 29 2015
British designer Nick Wakeman’s obsession with fabrics and fascination with the sensible, clean tailoring of menswear drive the aesthetic of her line, Studio Nicholson. Taking cues from the boys, Nick has created the antithesis of the frivolous trends and transience that have become familiar aspects of women’s fashion. Her work encourages us to slow down and appreciate the classics, the details, and the balance in simplicity.
Who are you? I’m Nick Wakeman, creative director and founder of Studio Nicholson.
Are you more of an island or a collaborator in the way you work? Total collaborator. I work with a number of freelancers on every collection and love to get my friends involved as much as possible.
Where does a collection start for you?
Fabric, fabric, fabric – it’s really where my heart lies. I trained as a textile designer, and warp and weft are incredibly important to me. All of our cloth is from outstanding Italian mills supplying the likes of Jil Sander, Dries, and Celine. The designers at these mills are immensely innovative; they blow my mind each season with their collections. I spend far too much time talking to these guys on buying appointments.
Can you talk to us about the importance of purity and simplicity in design? I prefer to let my designs speak to the customer through the unique quality of the fabric and the highly developed fit and boyish silhouette. It’s all about knowing when to put the pencil down (in my opinion).
What is it about menswear that captures and inspires you? How did that fascination begin? I wear a lot of men’s shirts and jackets and if I could fit men’s suits and trousers they would feature in my wardrobe, too. The detailing in menswear is so more considered and not over thought. As a rule, I have a much stronger emotional response to menswear than womenswear.
Why do you currently design a collection for women and not one for men? Probably only because I am a woman and I really want to wear my own collection.
Do you ever wear dresses? Nope, never.
I don’t even own one.
Are you solely focused on fashion, or do other areas of design influence you and your life? I’m very interested in architecture and spacial design. Specifically in the re-development of old commercial buildings.
Can you describe your home and give us a verbal tour of the highlights of your personal space? I spend a lot of time in my kitchen designing when I am not at the studio, it’s incredibly bright. My favourite spot, though, is my Victorian armchair in my living room, I bought it for next to nothing and recovered it.
I spend hours here reading.
What is your favorite piece of furniture that you own? That Victorian armchair!
Tell us about your connections to Italy and to Japan. How did those travels and connections develop? I have strong work connections to Japan as I previously owned a business with the former buying director at Beams. Italy is more about pleasure; I feel at home there.
How much time do you spend in each place? I have traveled to Japan around 15 times in the last 15 years. I adore the old and new culture clash. Italy, I find any excuse to go!
What are some contrasts in culture from each place that stand out to you most? Actually, I think they are not that dissimilar; both Italy and Japan are bound in tradition and both have long-standing textile industries.
It's all about knowing when to put the pencil down.
Can you us a quick timeline of your perfect Sunday? Two hours of yoga at Jivamukti Yoga Centre around the corner (it saves my life). Lunch at Ostuni with friends – a new Italian restaurant in my neighbourhood, a traditional Pugliese place with the best homemade bread. Then home for a nap.
What are the top three things on your bucket list? Own an Italian mill where I can create my own fabrics, learn to surf and learn to die Shibori indigo in Japan.
What is the Studio Nicholson manifesto? To create an effortless, confident and uncomplicated wardrobe for women who require a practical, yet classy uniform.
Do you collect anything? Vintage buttons.
Do you cook? I cook rather than starve.
What are you currently listening to and reading? A Mix Cloud playlist by Chris from Grizzly Bear, the new Vaccines album and I am beside myself waiting for the new Arcade Fire album out in October. I’m reading the Richard Burton Diaries – such a dude.
What is your weirdest quirk? I don’t wear underwear!
If you could go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you choose and why? Hawaii and learn to surf.