Soul Structures - Building the Modular Wardrobe
“I build shirts like houses, creating lines that the eye can follow from all angles."
Nick Wakeman thinks about clothing in the same way as most people consider architecture. She's never been one for fuss or flounce, preferring to concentrate instead on the dynamics of the human body, and how we inhabit the things we wear. The seams and structures she is careful to include in every garment aren't there to look pretty - they're the supporting beams that allow for playful movement and act as a framework for fluidity. Without these deliberately planned anchors, the modular wardrobe would ultimately fail. With the right plans in place, the cloth, cut and clever construction come together harmoniously to generate separates engineered for modern living.
Make no mistake, there are plenty of brands out there who claim to put functionality first - and perhaps they do - but more often than not, it leaves their garments feeling cold and soulless. The magic of what Wakeman does at Studio Nicholson, is that she allows her internal back catalogue of rich, nostalgic cultural influences to punctuate the collections with humour, elegance and just the right amount of adrogynous swagger.
Wakeman takes cues from the likes of William Morris, arguably the king of the Arts and Crafts movement, who famously said, "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." It's a mantra that kickstarts the design process for every season, but feels especially pertinent for Autumn Winter 20, when life is all about pairing back the nonsense and nurturing what's important.
High density cotton is always utilised at Studio Nicholson, for continuity styles as well as new additions. Talking about why shirts especially lend themselves to this kind of crispness, Wakeman explains, "I build shirts like houses, creating lines that the eye can follow from all angles. For the Asuka Shirt this season, I wanted to generate uncluttered space for the details to speak confidently. The deceptive simplicity of the trapeze cut encourages freedom and movement - it's a classic sculptural form that makes sense and flatters everyone, regardless of size. Every wardrobe should have one. And for me, dresses need to maintain this sensibility. The Loci is probably my favourite for Autumn Winter 20 with its mix of concave/convex volume and the subtle flash of skin from the opening on the cross back split. You can layer up underneath, or wrap up on top. But then, I suppose that's the beauty of thinking about your clothes as a timeless kit-of-parts, instead of a one-hit wonder."
Leanne Cloudsdale is the Studio Nicholson Editor-at-Large
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