Q&A with Designer Nicki Cozzolino

10:38 PM

Designer Nicki Cozzolino
Nicki Cozzolino is a young designer that I had the pleasure of meeting during a market appointment. Not only did I love her energy but I enjoyed her inspiration for her  Fall 2012 collection. I followed up with her to let you guys know more about this designer.

What was the defining moment that you realized that you wanted to be a designer?
I don’t think I ever had that sort of slap me in the face, self-realization that I wanted to be a designer.  In hindsight, the closest memory I have that embodies that sentiment was the feeling I got when I saw some old dressmaking film footage for the first time in College. I just remember feeling like I had just uncovered something special. Almost as if it was made solely for my eyes and I was looking around hoping that no one else saw because I didn’t want them to have that same experience. It felt very intimate, like it was mine.  I became so intrigued by the creative process of designing that none of the fine or studio art [majors] that I had studied my whole life had ever sparked in me.  I think I just sort of became obsessed with wanting to make clothes, so I went to explore that obsession.

Were there any difficulties starting your own business and building your brand?
Absolutely, though I’m sure my story is not at all unique.  I think anyone that has chosen something entrepreneurial has experienced all the trials and tribulations that come with that freedom.  Nothing is easy or will ever be perfect, but what sort of negates the difficulties is having a strong conviction in what you do and being courageous enough to keep going after what you want despite the challenges that you will indefinitely face. I'm just beginning to build my brand, so yes there are certainly frustrations, but things take time. Ultimately, this is a process, a journey not a race to the finish line. I'm confident that I will eventually get where I want to be.

Can you describe your aesthetic in three words?
Casual. Feminine. Edgy. Chic. Shit that’s four. I think I need four.

Who and/or what inspired your FW12 collection?
A lot of the collection was inspired by a long trip I took touring Turkey last summer, specifically the color palette and signature print story.  The four prints that I designed were the Star print based on the Turkish Flag (and the one that I draw on my hand everyday), the Gold Cat print, which speaks to all the cats that line the streets of the cities and countryside.  The other two are the Evil Eye print based on the evil eye that wards off negative energy and ill will. The Silk Spatter print, which I created from a photograph of silk cocoons just before their silk was extracted in a carpet-weaving factory.

Can you talk about your favorite pieces?
This season I was really obsessed with the bustier shape.  I wanted to downplay its formality and reintroduce it in a more refined fresh feeling way; showing it as layering piece to be worn in place of a normal cami or tank top. The shape of the bust line became the foundation for a number of other styles. My favorite two prints: the Black/White Star printed Bustier Bodysuit and Gold Cat printed Bustier Jumpsuit. Other favorites include my Gold Cat Relaxed Pant, Merino wool double Kissing Cat and Sassy Cat appliqu├ęd sweaters, and this new Zealand lambskin leather jacket with Bright Gold hardware.
It’s funny because I’m not so much a cat person, but I completely die for my sassy cats ;)

Can you describe your design process?
It’s a long process of observing and exploring my surroundings, absorbing and gathering information, interpreting ideas, researching, sourcing materials, playing, communicating, directing and etc. It begins as a very open exploratory journey outside of myself and then becomes very intimate and personal as the collections develops. Everything comes full circle and you open up again, showing the world what you’ve created and explaining to family and friends why they haven’t seen you in months :P.

If you weren’t a designer, what profession would you have?
I would love to be a photojournalist of some sort. I love traveling and taking pictures, exploring cultures, observing people, drawing connections between people and things, perceiving relationships in nature and between man-made inanimate objects. I’m sort of obsessed with the way that the world imitates human relationships. What publication I’d be contributing to is clearly TBD. Perhaps once it launches I can be a guest editor ;P, or just become an actress, of course.  But in the meantime I have some ladies to dress!

Do you have advice for young designers?
I would stress the importance of working for other designers before going off on your own. There's a lot to say about real experience and apprenticeship and I know that I would not be here today had I not put in the time working for others.  

Do you have any plans for Memorial's Day?
It’s going to be a big family weekend for me :) It is my nieces’ third birthday party and my younger brothers birthday as well. I will be staying in the area, mostly Montclair, NJ, where I grew up.

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