Meet sustainable fashion label Nicol & Ford, creators of the Sydney Fringe Power Suits
Flights of ibis. Palm trees. Opera House. Kings Cross glitz, cooked prawns and street signs. Last week we heard from Stavroula Adameitis aka Frida Las Vegas, who embraced these Sydney icons for her vivacious print, the figures held tight and to the rhythm of a sweaty beachside dance floor. Today with a flourish of trumpets and soulful crooning, we look to the twin talents of Sydney fashion house Nicol & Ford – Katie-Louise and Timothy Nicol-Ford, who have disciplined Adameitis’ burst of 80s and 90s Australiana into a 1940s and 80s powersuit silhouette.
“When Jean-Paul Gaultier carved into history the iconic shapes of the 1980s,” says Nicol & Ford, “he was deeply inspired by the fitted drama of 1940s vamp aesthetic. By accentuating the war-time silhouette and introducing masculine lines, Gaultier made something new of an era defined by war, and we have remixed this narrative.”
Narrative and drama recur often as consorts in the collections of this wife and husband collaboration, both in their original designs as well as curated vintage range. Their previous two limited edition collections, Peach Narcissus and The Gold-Hatted Lovers, embody theatrical and literary worlds, ones evocative of a nocturnal Dorian Grey and mid-afternoon Brideshead respectively. A perusal of their Instagram account hints at late medieval and early modern influences, the glamour and shadow of European court intrigue, in their forthcoming release Mignons de Couer.
“The most remarkable aspect of clothing from past decades,” says Nicol & Ford, “is both the detail and design, but also the high quality standard to which clothing was manufactured in eras before ‘fast fashion’ existed. Clothing was made to last – and to stay eternally stylish – and we try to design with these principles in mind.”
The pair run their operations out of a shop/studio set-up in Glebe, but have shifted around to several different spaces around Sydney over the course of the past four years.
“We have found it extremely important to engage with our local creative community,” Nicol & Ford admit, and this is a combination of both supporting the work of others in the area as well as actively seeking out partnerships. “Collaboration, just like ours with Frida Las Vegas, provides opportunity for growth and challenge, and assists you to connect with a broad audience. If you’re thinking about starting out, shoot us an email and we’ll grab a coffee!”
One example of voluptuous growth – from makers gathering and drawing in a wider group of interested audience members – is close at hand for Nicol & Ford, the pair fondly recounting a visit to a showcase of the history of Australian showgirl and burlesque costumes at the Museum of Burlesque in Spice Alley, Central Park, during the 2017 Sydney Fringe.
“Not only did the exhibition highlight Australia’s exceptional home-grown talent,” Nicol & Ford recall, “it also brought together a broad community of performers, enthusiasts and aspiring men and women who wanted to connect with a culture built upon mystique!”
Momentum is already gathering for this year’s Sydney Fringe Festival, with the full programme out and on sale, so you’ll be seeing the fruits of Nicol & Ford’s collaboration all over the city these next few months.
Words by James Dalton