Nicole Miller Mines Her Massive Archive for Spring 2019

by Ashley Baker
Nicole Miller

Nicole Miller explored her own archives in order to create a capsule collection, filled with her greatest hits circa the 1980s, subtly tweaked to feel very au courant. Ahead of its release and her Spring ’19 show, the designer fills in your Daily on her trip down memory lane.

Where did you get the idea to launch a vintage inflected capsule collection?
I’ve noticed people have been copying a lot of my old dresses, so it just seemed like a trend — this longer, drape-y, kind of ’40s style dress that I used to make in the ’80s. There really is a movement for looser-fitting dresses. People have been begging and clamoring for my old dresses, buying them up on eBay. Christene Barberich from Refinery29 found an old dress of mine, and she posted a photo of it on Instagram — it was pretty cool. This idea [of revisiting the look] has been on my mind; I tried to do it three years ago, but I couldn’t really get the sales part behind it. Now, the timing is right. I dug up some of my old vintage prints and had them reprinted on a vintage-y disco drape. I’m excited about [Nicole Miller Vintage]; it’s come together really nicely. Some pieces are new styles that look like old ones, and some are exact [replicas] of our old styles — yet they look totally contemporary. The dresses will be priced in the $200 range.

(Nicole Miller)

Any favorite prints from the collection?
There’s a funny print with little paint tubes on it. It’s really cute! I have a picture of Belinda Carlisle from the Go-Go’s wearing one dress — she’d shortened it, because it was actually a long dress. I found one in a Melrose Avenue thrift shop a few years back, and then, I found a few other pieces from that exact same [print] group. I resurrected that print; some have more of a ’40s look, and some are more conversational.

Where do you keep your archives?
I have a whole big archive closet downstairs [at the brand’s HQ], which has the looks from all the fashion shows, starting from Spring ’91, our first one. But a lot of these dresses predate that — I made them before I did fashion shows — so they came from a different closet, which has a lot of fun ’80s stuff in it.

What’s the mood of your Spring ’19 collection?
Nostalgic and timeless. I have used a lot of ideas that came from the archives closet, but literally everything is newer and updated. There’s a little bit of an ’80s influence, but I didn’t want to get too caught up in one period or one time zone. The collection has a lot of very contemporary dresses.

Any favorite silhouettes you’re loving for fall?
I’m sure I’m not the only person doing this, but I do love a long, oversize blazer. I began last fall, and there was a lot on my runway, but for Spring. I made it bigger and longer, and tweaked some of the details. The jacket is like the length of a short dress now. Blazers weren’t around for a while, and now, the blazer is definitely back! It’s just got to be a little more interesting.

Which hues or prints are you into this season?
A lot of neon touches, and prints like leopard. You know, remnants of the ’80s! It’s hard to find a good leopard. Mine is actually a cheetah print! I’m not sure what the difference between a cheetah and a leopard print is… but I got it from an actual vintage piece of fur.

What were you doing in the ’80s? You have this very cool history with that particular time…
I was just going to Studio 54, and then I was going to Area. The No. 1 club was called Tier 3; nobody seems to remember that, but I remember that being fun! And The Mudd Club, of course. Can’t forget The Mudd Club.

What kind of a time was that for you in fashion?
It was really fun. Everything was really fun back then. Everybody is a little serious now, but it’s funny when you look back—a lot of it looks pretty bad. I never had one of those silly shag hairstyles, but I definitely had my share of hoop earrings. Going out, everyone had mesh, lace, stuff like that.

What else is new in the world of Nicole Miller?
I have a lot of trips and personal appearances coming up. I’m going to Paris for three days for the fabric shows, and then to London in October for the art fair, and then I’ll be in Philadelphia and St. Louis for events. There’s also a trunk show in L.A. There will be a lot of traveling.

How do you feel about castings these days — do you gravitate toward any particular models?
It’s just not like the old days, you know? Before, I would slit my wrists if I didn’t get Naomi [Campbell] — now, there are so many great girls. There’s always this core group that I use, and I’m really happy with who we get.

How will you celebrate post-show?
I’m going waterskiing the next day!

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