Nicol & Ford at Australian Fashion Week

Dear Diane and Shaded Viewers,

Diane, I always remember you telling me that you can forever trust a designer who wears their own clothes. Let me tell you about Katie-Louise and Timothy of Nicol & Ford, who showed their first official fashion week collection in Sydney today as part of Australian Fashion Week.

This duo design for themselves and their creative firmament, in the form of a research project focused on historical patternmaking and visual culture where the output happens to be clothing. Using exclusively deadstock textiles, all their garments are one of a kind.

Inspired by a penthouse apartment in Paris designed by Le Corbusier (circa 1920s but sadly no longer exists) and then to his horror, littered with French rococo antique furniture, the Nicol & Ford collection oozed camp extravagance inside what was otherwise a hollowed-out warehouse. Hand-smocked or quilted silk velvet was lined with hessian, and upholstery jacquards were draped on the bias. Broken chinaware was refashioned into oversized gilt jewels and miniature tapestry portraits into a charming purse. Add a tassel tie-back here, some fringing there and doorknob-affixed shoes, the collection somehow avoided gimmick with balance and the execution to match.

Indeed, despite this being the duo’s fashion week debut, everything was so well made and finished thanks to the skills of Katie-Louise who cuts and sews everything by hand in their atelier. And it’s this understanding and appreciation of craft, as well as the universe of Nicol & Ford so full of aplomb that seems to have drawn in likeminded collaborators – Phoebe Hyles on jewels, Matea Gluscevic on shoes, J. R. Harvey Leathergoods and Amanda Testa on accessories – who are all makers at their core and so good at what they do. The result was something that left the rest of what I’ve seen this week feeling, at times, like an empty white box.

Sophie Joy

(Images courtesy of Getty / Afterpay Australian Fashion Week)

Sophie Joy Wright