The Nicole Miller company may be 25 years old, but its loyal consumers are just getting a taste of what it has to offer as a lifestyle brand.
In late 2005, chief executive officer Bud Konheim announced the firm's all-out accessories initiative, signing licenses for handbags, footwear, belts and jewelry, as well as other related categories in a bid to boost the brand's revenue by 25 percent.
The firm has had accessories in the past, but Konheim's plan was to become more involved in the design and execution of the extended categories, allowing for a more unified look in tandem with Miller's modern, feminine aesthetic.
In the past year, the firm has been ironing out the kinks, such as changing its fashion jewelry licensee from Maurice Max to Gigi Accessories, and the accessories seeds sown by Konheim and the Miller team are set to bloom this fall on shelves at Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and other retailers.
Categories now include women's shoes produced by Camuto Group, eyewear by Signature, belts with Roma Industries and handbags by NM Designs. Miller also licenses men's shirting and ties with A.W. Chang Corp.; umbrellas, pet products, baby and cosmetic bags with Essex; women's golf accessories with Glove It, and several others for a total of 34 licenses. Included in that queue are 10 licensing agreements to produce home goods for Bed Bath & Beyond, which Liza Saunders, licensing manager at Nicole Miller, said had been a very lucrative niche for the fashion firm.
"Everybody's in the start-up phases" commented Sanders about the fashion accessories, who added that there has been a soft launch of handbags, belts and shoes for spring in the firm's SoHo store in Manhattan.
And even at this early stage of the spring shopping season, the accessories are already a hit,
according to Rogers Pimenta, general manager of the Nicole Miller SoHo boutique. "The bags are doing awesome," he said. "Just earlier, one of my good customers came in and bought a dress. We added the necklace and shoes, and the first thing she said was, ‘Wow, the necklace really made the look.' That's the thing. It's all complementary to the clothes."Styles for spring include large leather satchels in cutout metallic leather, clutches in Miller's crinkled metallic taffeta to pair with her evening dresses in the signature fabric, oversize leather belts with an ethnic feel to layer over tunics and dresses and skinny stiletto heels that wrap around the ankle several times.
This year also marks the introduction of Nicole Miller fine jewelry. Produced by World Trade Jewelers, based in New York, the line includes gold pendants in Celtic motifs and elaborate crosses encrusted with pavé diamonds. As with all the accessories categories, Miller herself had a huge amount of input in the designs.
For fall, Miller sent all of her licensees in the direction of South America, a major influence on the fall ready-to-wear collection.
"The jewelry represents who she is," said World Trade Jewelry designer Maria Fryda Velarde. "I talk to [Nicole] about what her style is. She likes to approve everything and details are very important to her."
"Nicole is who she is because she's so involved," said David Yallouz, ceo of Gigi Accessories. "My designers do the final touches, but it's her vision. When you talk to her, you realize she's a genius. She knows what she's doing."
Kate Nienen, designer for NM Designs, which produces Nicole Miller handbags, had a similar experience working closely with Miller and her team. Based on Miller's South American inspiration, Nienen sourced some vintage-looking, intricate hardware, which Miller just loved, according to Nienen.
The fine jewelry will be launched in May on Shop NBC. All the accessories will be shown at the Nicole Miller runway show on Feb. 2 at the tents at Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast