Nicholas K's Pre-Fashion Week Q&A With PAPERMAG

Alyssa Vingan
Nicholas K is the brainchild of designer Nicholas Kunz and her brother-cum-business partner Christopher Kunz, who launched the brand in 2003. If you're not familiar with the line yet, it just might be on the brink of superstardom: In 2009, the pair was inducted into the CFDA, and this season marks their first ever solo runway presentation
. The show, which will display both 
men's and women's looks in 
Nicholas' signature 
utilitarian style, 
takes place bright and early on September 9, making it the first ever fashion show to be presented at Lincoln Center. We chatted with the designer about her upcoming spring collection, and as an added bonus, she was kind enough to share some expert styling tips.

What was the starting point for your Spring 2011 collection? 
Finding a red vintage military beret with leather trim. It was love at first sight. 

What inspires you and your designs? 
Different things. Sometimes I find an object and I base my entire collection off of it, and this season it happened to be the vintage military beret. For next season, my inspiration is coming from my search for a weekend home in the Catskills. My color palettes are usually inspired by nature, and clothing styles usually come from my city life, thus the collection tends to have a very organic, avant-garde feeling. 

Would you briefly describe your aesthetic? 
Sophisticated bohemian-meets-utilitarian -- disheveled sexy. Looking "effortless" is much sexier than looking like you tried too hard. A wardrobe should be transitional and easy to wear, and layers always add dimension and versatility. 

Are there any pieces in the upcoming collection that are your particular favorites, or that you think will be the "must have" item for spring? 
Besides a cotton hand-dyed leather trimmed military beret?! The oversized hooded chocolate leather bomber vest or the oversized hooded drape military anorak. I think hoods are underrated.  

You seem to have perfected the art of layering! Can you share your wisdom and give us some tips? 
Thank you! 
  • Layering monotone colors (in different shades) is always beautiful.
  • Always buy a couple of standout pieces, like an amazing jacket or sweater, and then go from there. Basics are essential, but try to invest in timeless statement pieces. 
  • If you're not sure, don't do it! Sometimes less is more.
  • Just like a standout jacket, invest in a statement piece of jewelry. 
  • It's always nice to add some high heels when wearing layers to elongate your figure. 
  • If you are layering on top, keep a slim silhouette on the bottom, and vice-versa. 
  • A belt or a scarf for a pop of color is always a nice touch, or again, a beautiful piece of jewelry. Invest in a thin, extra-long, oiled horse-bridle brown leather belt that you can knot at the end. It will complete that polished, refined look and looks beautiful with any color. 
  • Splurging on a great pair of sunglasses is something to consider. Customize them with colored, mirrored lenses. A blush-tinted lens always looks great with neutrals. 
  • And remember: long, flowy dresses look best with cropped jackets.

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