The unfolding story of a designer with talent, vision and passion is an intoxicating spectacle. Nicola Woods, an insurance broker turned visionary designer, started her design journey with a love affair with the Orient, and upcyling rare, one-of-a-kind, vintage kimonos.
She explored the whole ethos and history of this intricate, emblematic piece of clothing, and dreamt up a hundred different ways for the smart, well-travelled woman to wear her clever, grown up garments. Until now, the collection has revolved around her signature coats, jackets, skirts, and cropped shrugs, with the aid of elegant ties that allow for the ebb and flow in a woman’s body shape.
“In my first year of working with kimono fabrics, it was all about finding out how far I could design within the strictures of 28 centimetres of fabric. It is not until you have an understanding of those constraints, that you can push the fabric in the design, and go anywhere.”
Now Nicola has allowed her fertile, restless imagination to soar, and her collection for summer 2011 represents a dizzy, exciting leap in confidence – and the resulting glamour is hard to resist.
For me, the star pieces in the forthcoming collection are the gorgeous day-into-night tailored boudoir dresses; divinely ladylike summer coats with side tie bows; swishy, intricately tailored capes in a bewitching new print; and vibrant corsets made from the offcuts – enabling Woods to stick firmly to her mantra of zero waste.
The cut and drape is inspired by fashion’s current obsession with Dior’s New Look and the cult television drama Madmen. Then Woods adds another dimension: Each seductively draped and fitted kimono inspired dress is made from a single, antique kimono, making the resulting garment a precious heirloom to treasure.
Nor has Woods forgotten the boys. This season she has added a small, but rather arresting collection of tailored jackets for men who long to be metropolitan birds of paradise in the most tantalising of prints. I can imagine Bryan Ferry, the ultimate sartorialist holding court in some fabulous night-time playground in Beautiful Soul’s Mai lounge jacket. See Beautiful Soul’s SS11 film here.
Beautiful Soul is stocked at the V&A and from www.beautiful-soul.co.uk
Retail prices from £150 – £700