Published on February 21, 2013 | by Natalie Archer1
Corrie Nielsen: McQueen in the making
Leading from the courtyard of Somerset House is a maze of doors and hallways to Corrie Nielsen’s quaint but charming studio tucked away in the South Wing.
The American born UK-based designer gives off an air of importance without being pretentious or threatening.
It’s difficult to ignore the impressive design sketches on the walls and the rails of Nielsen’s garments, some of which are top secret and banned from being captured by our photographer.
“I don’t like to give away my secrets,” she explains with a giggle. A fair statement made by a talented designer who has often been referred to as the next Alexander McQueen.
However, such a creative vision and technique has not just risen out of thin air.
“In my family we have a lot of artistic people; my mother was a dressmaker and my father is a woodcraftsman, a rock sculptor, a gardener and a photographer. So I come from a family of artists.”
Venturing into fashion
Such a fascinating upbringing makes you wonder how Nielson ventured into the world of fashion. “From 18 up to the age of 26 I was making clothes for friends of mine that were in rock bands and drag queens.”
Nielsen was also, unsurprisingly, a model for 16 years. She fronted campaigns for Vivienne Westwood, under whom she worked as a designer for six years, as well as Banana Republic and many fashion magazines.
It is clear that her modelling career was an asset to her design career, especially when you think of how she creates a story around each of her lines and the fit of her exquisite garments.
“Artists get inspired by many different things and it just comes to you, it’s not something I can really explain.” Corrie Nielsen
After her brief modelling career, Nielsen decided to do a Bachelors degree in Fashion Design Womenswear at Central Saint Martins, which she felt helped her a great deal as a design student.
“It opened up my mind to looking at other things rather than just what other people were doing.” Said Nielsen.
Most designers like to look at what other designers are doing rather than looking at things that can influence, shape and mould into something different. I think Central Saint Martins is really good for that.”
Nielsen also expresses the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people in the fashion industry. “Get some business people behind you that believe in you and are going to push the brand in the direction of where it should go.”
Since graduating from CSM, Nielsen has been known as Vivienne Westwood’s protégé after years of working for the iconic and distinctly British designer. She was selected as the winner of the Fashion Fringe award in 2010, chosen by none other than John Galliano.
Nielsen also wowed London Fashion Week spectators last year with her elegant and theatrical Spring Summer 2013 collection Florilgium, which is Latin for ‘gathering of flowers’.
Nielsen researched the subject of her collection thoroughly, which was inspired by the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.
It is here that she spent her time studying the flora and plant life. Nielsen also studied botanical blueprints, learning every part of the flowers that inspired her.
She explains: “Artists get inspired by many different things and it just comes to you, it’s not something I can really explain.”
Nielsen looks down and then out of her studio window, trying her hardest to construe her thoughts, “It’s an idea, a feeling, and then from there you develop it and work at it. You look for different things that influence the line or collection.” Nielsen however did not show at this seasons London LFW, and when asked why she firmly replies, “That’s private”.
It is disappointing to hear that such a strong designer known for her beautiful craftsmanship, flawless detail and fascinating sculptural form wasn’t part of London Fashion Week this season.
However, Nielsen confirms that we will be seeing more of her in 2013. “There will be some different things popping up; I’m going to do something different this year.” She smiles a smile that is so infectious and effervescent that you can’t help but smile back in anticipation for what Corrie Nielsen has up her tailored sleeve.