FAULT Focus: British Designer Corrie Nielsen

Unless otherwise stated, all images are by Benjamin Johnson

What kinds of people are your designs aimed at?

They’re generally aimed at all different types of women, often in the creative industry and the entertainment industry.  I’m also starting to sell to brides, so it’s a combination of different people.  I don’t want to say it’s exclusive because it’s for everybody, but it’s not really for the high street.    We do get a lot of women in the music industries that come forward.  My designs can be extravagant but there’s the ready-to-wear stuff, and then people think that’s extravagant!  I don’t like to limit myself but at the same time I like to keep my standards quite high.  I’m trying to keep it versatile.  At the end of the day you never know who’s going to come forward; you’ve got to keep it open.

 Is there anyone in particular you would like to see wearing your designs?

Oh yeah definitely, I would love to see Cate Blanchett, Tilda Swinton, Daphne Guinness…  In the music industry I’ve had Lady Gaga borrow stuff, the stylist borrowed the stuff but it didn’t get worn in the end.  Then Kim Kardashian has also been seen recently.

necklace – Cardinal of London
Shoes – Corrie Nielsen, Necklace – Stylists Own

If you could sum up your S/S 2013 ‘Florilegium’ collection in 3 words what would you say?

Kew Gardens… 3-dimensional flower… and I would say earth colour.  That’s a little more than 3, but I can’t sum it up in just 3 words!

What would you say was the main source of inspiration behind ‘Florilegium’?

It’s Latin for floral gathering basically.  It’s something I always wanted to do.  I love Kew Gardens and I wanted to experiment with nature, looking at the different plants and flowers 3-dimensionally.  It was very challenging so I had to think and look at the shape.  You have to be careful with things like that because it can be overdone.  So it has to be done in a way that is appealing to the eye.  Initially the inspiration came from the flower, palm leaves and just nature in general.  I wanted to take that and use it in the design.  I went into the Darwin archive and read about his scientific studies on the flower.  At certain times of the day its growth is affected by the sun.  It’s really fascinating.  The natural light and the way it affects the colour, the growth and the change of that plant is very interesting.  Then I was looking at Makoto Muryama’s blueprints, almost like a DNA, and it was incredible what he was doing with the flowers. 

Were there any particular flower shapes that you wanted to recreate?

Not really, I left my mind open.  I looked at colours and I looked at the inside of flowers around the stamen and the stain on the petals.  It’s amazing how nature can create that.  It goes down to shape and the delicateness of the plant and putting it all into one.


How have you maintained your signature structured styles within the collection when the nature of the concept is so feminine and serene?

Everyone was doing this draped, very simple kind of dress, garment, blouse, whatever… and for me, I like to throw in a shape to it.  I think that I’m always going to have a twist to the clothes, there is always going to be something that’s different to it as opposed to it just being straight.  And you’ll see that with all my work.  Even with the smaller A/W collection there is volume and shape to the garment because when I see things I see them 3-dimensionally.  Tailoring is very important because the garment needs to fit beautifully.  All the pieces are tailored to the body.  Every designer has a signature style, but it’s important to keep the flow because if you change it dramatically then it throws people off.



Do you have any favourite pieces from that collection?

I pretty much liked all of it, there were criticisms but you know what, in nature you get all different types of plants and flowers and it depends on personal preference.  All things that grow in nature have their own unique beauty and energy.  A lot of people liked this dress here:

Image by Sue Foll


For this blouse here I took inspiration from the mushroom.

Image by Sue Foll

If you turn a mushroom upside down, you have all those intricate beautiful pleats.  They covered it up and I wish they didn’t!

And then I love this, it’s dip-dye.

Image by Sue Foll

Talk us through the styling and make up…

It was almost like a pollen stain you know, like if you get some pollen and rub it on your arm it leaves like an orangey stain.  So that’s what we did.  Then the hair was a bit wild to keep with the nature theme.

 How have your designs and practice developed from your debut winning collection from Fashion Fringe 2010? 

I think it’s developed tremendously.  The main focus is the wearability of the garments but also the beauty of the cut as well as the fabric choice.  I think it has become more modern.

Earrings – Cardinal of London, Ring – Imogen Belfield, Shoes – Daniel Footwear

You have been referred to as Vivienne Westwood’s protégé because you worked for her for 6 years…

Yeah I know, that is so not true.  I love how people label designers, like you work for a designer then all of a sudden your stuff is exactly like theirs.  No, it’s not.  Vivienne has her aesthetic, Alexander McQueen had his aesthetic, I’ve got my own and I’ve got my own vision.  We are all very individual and have our own unique cutting skills and draping.  We all have our own unique approach as designers and dressmakers.


What other things can we expect to see from you this year?  Is there anything you’re looking forward to?

I just won a bridal show in the dress category so we are starting to look at the bridal market because it’s a huge industry.  But at the same time I’m continuing working on my business.  I am planning to do something for London Fashion Week, but I can’t reveal what I’m planning yet.  It is something different from the previous collections, so it’s moving on and progressing.  It’s getting more modern and adapting to the environment and industry, without moving away too much from what I do, keeping the same aesthetic.  That’s it so far, unless something else pops up and you never know.

Words by Joelle Thurston

Photography: Benjamin Johnson
Styling: Rivkie Baum
Make Up: Harriet Hadfield
Hair: Kazuki Fujiwara
Designer: Corrie Nielsen