Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Behind the Nica Bag: Find out what's inspiring the new Lulu collection

What’s summer without venturing outside and enjoying the great outdoors? It’s the perfect way to enjoy the glorious sunshine that we've been experiencing as of late, and you have to agree that things are at their most beautiful whilst they’re in full bloom during the summer months!

For a Designer, there aren't many other things that are more inspiring than nature itself, and spending summery afternoons at beautiful locations such as botanical gardens like Kew in London can generate a multitude of ideas for new designs. 

Broad walk bedding, Kew Gardens
Source: kewonflickr

Nica’s latest collection, Lulu, clearly has a botanically inspired aesthetic and is positively blooming with floral detail from its exterior leaf shaped charms and flower form hardware, to its unique floral print lining. 

Clear similarities can be drawn between the leaves of the Alocasia Macrorrhizos plant below and the leaf shaped charm upon the new Lulu shoulder bag.   

The Alocasia Macrorrhizos at Kew Gardens
Source: kewonflickr

The pretty shaped petals of flowers just like the Ixora Peter Rapsey inspire charming hardware or even print detail upon handbags and purses. 

The Ixora 'Peter Rapsey' in Palm House, Kew Gardens
Source: kewonflickr

Sometimes just looking at photographs of mixed fields filled with blossoming flowers in a palette of colours side by side can appear to look like a print, so, it comes as no surprise at just how easily they can influence new designs upon both accessories and garments.

Here’s one of our favourite shots of Kew Gardens in full bloom, which could easily influence a new print lining or finishing upon a handbag, wouldn’t you agree? 

Houseleeks in the Alpine House at Kew Gardens
Source: kewonflickr

Why not share your inspiring botanical themed photos with us on Instagram by tagging @nicasnotebook or alternatively tweet us at @Nica_handbags ? You never know who it might influence. 

The Nica Team x x 

Monday, 29 July 2013

Behind the Scenes: Inside Nica's S/S 14 Fashion Shoot

Last week, we were bubbling with excitement as we descended upon the artsy King’s Head Members’ Club in the midst of East London as to shoot our S/S 14 campaign.

If you love Nica’s handbags and want to see exactly how our shoot unfolded, here’s your backstage pass to the day’s events. Get ready for a sneak peak at some of next season’s gems!

The theme of the shoot channelled a geometrical jungle with a Sixties’ bohemian twist, so, nostalgic imagery upon a backdrop of undated quirky patterns were key. 

Make-up Artist Marco Antonio explained that the shoot's make up "emulates that of an old top model with very defined lines around the eyes, a feathery brow, and big voluminous blow-dried hair. This model has amazing skin, so, she doesn't need much foundation but we’re keeping the skin quite matte and the lips too". 

Above, Stylist Aradia Crockett is running through her shoot options with Designer Nica, and explained that the style for the shoot was to be "clean and feminine with a slightly vintage element whilst still maintaining an air of modernity". 

The Photographer of choice was  Rebecca Miller, and the above was an extra shot that wasn't initially planned. She explained that "sometimes those end up being my favourite shots of the day. Charlotte, our model has the most amazing cat like eyes. I was just trying to find the best angle for her. She looks amazing when shot slightly from above. I love all the mix of textures here. I wanted this shot to feel like a lazy late afternoon or hot summery day".

Above, the green geometrical cut out across body Daffodil is being incorporated into a truly retro inspired look. Doesn't this photograph make you feel like you've just stepped back in time

It takes a while to get the perfect shot but bags like the new Linda above do make it easier! It's feminine structure and hot pink hue makes it the perfect piece to channel that Hobo vibe. 

And here's another sneak peak of one of the lovelies that you can expect next season in the form of our Sara satchel. The coral Sara was actually one of Stylist Aradia's favourite bags from the entire collection.
Which of the two colour-ways is your favourite? 

The Nica Team  x x

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Behind the Nica Bag: Nostalgic Retro Chic

"Fashion fades, only style remains the same."

- Coco Chanel, 1930

Photo by Melvin Sokolsky. Paris.1963

I have to say that I am very fond of, or perhaps more fittingly, I get childishly delighted by all things things old, and that's even despite the fact that whilst growing up in my own country, I was scarcely presented with opportunities that allowed me to appreciate the concept of vintage or retro fashion. 

Since embarking upon my career in the fashion world, coupled with meeting a variety of vintage-seeking connoisseurs in London, I have however come to be extremely fascinated by the vintage trend.The city of London is awash with the swirls of vintage and retro fashion, and I've had so much fun playing with the trends which it creates. My most recent vintage musing has to be the fabulously crafted film The Great Gatsby, which was based on Mr. Fitzgerald’s much acclaimed novel! Very inspirational! :-) 

Lili Damita, French actress, 1925

Fashion simply couldn't exist without fashion photography. In other words, vintage fashion is still alive in fashion photography! Whenever I see inspiring vintage fashion photo prints, I am utterly captivated, as it's as if they've managed to freeze the timelessly chic traits of each era's fashion scene and styles in time. 

Above (All): Crochet handbag collection c. 1940

A little tote made of bamboo C. 1940

Copyright © Norman Parkinson Limited/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Norman Parkinson was one of my favourite Fashion Photographers, who defined a new style of photography that was more informal and full of life and movement. Stemming from the 1950s and throughout the rest of his 50 years career, he pioneered a more relaxed and unstructured feel to fashion photography, replacing the static posed studio-based approach.

Copyright © Norman Parkinson Limited/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

Look at his iconic shots of Audrey Hepburn sporting a lovely soft pink Fifties New Look! I have so much admiration for this image that it even inspired some of my S/S 13 collection. 

Copyright © Norman Parkinson Limited/Courtesy Norman Parkinson Archive

We are inspired by so many varied retro styles, silhouettes, and looks present in vintage fashion photography. What is your favourite retro fashion scene?

Photo by Nina Leen, c. 1950s for the LIFE magazine

Love Nica Kim xxx

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

How To: Style Your Doctor’s Bag

Contemplating a new way as to inject a shot of vintage into your wardrobe? Then, channel your inner professional and say hello to the jolt of pure joy that is the Doctor’s bag!

The Doctor’s bag is often touted as one of the most successful shapes as to appear in handbag history, proven by its persistent appearances throughout the decades. It was even dubbed by many as the shape of the season when it popped up upon several of the A/W 12 catwalks in a plethora of variations, which toyed with both its traditional shape and classic design characteristics. We certainly acquired a style tip or two, and realised that it’s an investment piece that we can continue to use for many more seasons to come. 

Your handbag is an extension of your personality and self style, and the A/W 12 runways taught us that the versatility of the Doctor’s bag makes it the ultimate self expression staple. Not yet convinced? Then, be inspired by the likes of Prada, Marni et al, and learn how one simple Doctor’s bag can be transformed as to be incorporated into an array of styles.  

The Doctor’s bag is generally associated with being a fuss-free way of injecting your outfit with a boyish edge yet Jill Sander’s runway proved otherwise, and showcased a variation of the trend with clearly feminine aesthetics. Its form was stretched, which made for a 1950’s feel, with the addition of an uncharacteristically placed shoulder strap, and even a pastel pink handle.

Image via ElleUK.

Marni’s take on the Doctor’s bag proved that it can still maintain a masculine vibe as it simultaneously plays host to its feminine side by sharpening its architectural shape yet bulking up its upper frame and handle structure.

Image via GraziaDaily

Prada went retro and derived inspiration from the Seventies with psychedelic appliqué flower prints and opted against the bag’s traditional soft leather exterior for a high shine finish instead, which instantly transforms the feel of the bag. It’s a style that would easily slide into a true vintage lover’s wardrobe, and especially those who love a bold statement making print.

Image via GraziaDaily

Alexander Wang completely transformed the historical shape of the bag with his approach upon the trend, and created much more of a minimal inspired structure with a very modern feel. So much so, that once you extend its strap and drape it over your shoulder, it’s hardly recognisable as even being a Doctor’s bag!

Image via PurseBlog

Of course, you don’t have to make like the runways and completely restructure your Doctor’s bag as to incorporate it into your own personal style, as the traditional design has a classic enough of a feel as to sit alongside many different looks. 

The real proof is in the pudding, though, so, why not see how many different looks that you can create with your own Doctor’s bag and share some of your favourites with us. Tweet us @Nica_Handbags or show us on Instagram by tagging your photos with @Nica_Handbags

The Nica Team x

Friday, 12 July 2013

Cult of Cut Out - Digital Laser Cutting

For the latest of issue of Art Nouveau, it was all about intricate details and great craftsmanship. Those elaborate details have intrigued me to develop my design with new technique: digital laser cutting. This amazing skill always ensures my work remain organic and quirky at the same time.

Land In Between (2012) by Ane Domaas with Cathrine Kullberg

Laser cutting has been used to cut out precise patterns initially in metal, plastic and wood, yet nowadays it can be performed in any other material we can imagine. Laser cutting technology has become increasingly popular in recent years; this has prompted an exceptional reaction, particularly within the fashion industry.

Textile designer Ensuk Hur’s work pushes the boundaries of fashion and design by exploring different approaches with unexpected textiles and materials, including felt. She uses beautifully intricate laser-cut natural wool felt to develop stunning new creations. 

Laser cutting fabric by Ensuk Hur, 2010

Laser cutters might be currently one of the most beloved (and widely adopted) digital technologies in the fashion world. The elaborate details created by laser cutting make new levels of seduction and beauty possible.

Beautiful laser cut detail by Marchesa, SS2010

Technology imitates nature. – Aristotle

Engineered Laser cut lace, 2013 by Mary O’ Malley

The relentless drive towards new innovation has led to continuous confrontations between nature and technology. Edgy yet sophisticated, laser-cut details are usually inspired by nature and organic forms and applied to a diverse range of fabrics from chiffon to leather. Designers use this technique to demonstrate timeless elegance and sophistication by cutting, layering, and sculpting textiles into creative forms. 

Sculpted textile made by laser cutting fabric stack,
Lilly Heine, 2010, Central Saint Martins M.A. Fashion Show

Black laser cut metal sunglasses by Kokon To Zai (KTZ) SS 2013
Engineered Laser Cut Lace by Valentino / Spring 2012 RTW

Laser cut is a bit of buzzword amongst many fashion retailers with the accurate fine cuts and much higher quality of finish. Each bit of work has its own story to tell and displays the inner beauty of designer. Hope you to enjoy this wonderful movement which has inspired some ofour SS 2013 collection of the Nica bag!

Love, Nica Kim xxx

Friday, 5 July 2013

Festival Florals: Glastonbury 2013

Floral Backpack | Nica Print | Festival Florals

With my favourite UK festival over for another year (sob, sob), I thought it would be a fitting time to share with you my favourite style picks from the last three days at Glastonbury. From performing artists to A-list celebrities, the floral trend was big news at this year’s event. Let’s take a look at the guests who wore florals best, flower power!

Katherine Jenkins embraced the sunshine with denim shorts and a floral blouse combo. Wearing a floral head crown, wayfarers, cross body bag and bangles for accessories, the Welsh songstress dressed in pastel colours which looked radiant paired against her olive skin.

Music singer and style icon Florence Welch wore a white Grecian style dress to perform in and later changed into an off duty bright floral tunic with tan accessories and 50’s sunglasses. I love how effortless this outfit looks - to me festival style is all about channeling your inner boho chic and wearing comfortable statement pieces, Florence has done it again!

Millie Mackintosh kept it simple with a scaled back green parka, wellies, black polo neck crop and shorts. The Made in Chelsea star completed the look with a yellow flower crown which gave the look a bright pop of colour – she was even spotted with a matching drink cup!

Even newbie on the block, Gabrielle Aplin sported a red floral daisy blouse and cream print matching shorts during her performance on the BBC introducing stage. The young English songstress looked demure and elegant.

All of these looks inspired me to get on board and that’s why I decided to create my very own floral trend look book - I hope you like it! 

1.      As I mentioned in my last post, I love flower head crowns, they give every look a whimsical vintage spin and spruce up plain outfits.

2.      Whilst brogues aren’t the most obvious choice of footwear for a festival, occasionally the weather stays dry allowing us to leave those clunky wellies at home. This year’s Glastonbury was mud-free!

3.      Flowing maxi-dresses are so easy to wear, just throw on and go. I love this navy daisy print dress, it is figure flattering and could be dressed up with accessories or worn with boots for a casual look.

4.      Round sunnies are all you need to hide tired eyes, these floral sun-specs are 1950’s with a modern twist.

5.      This Nica Play print floral backpack has all the room you need to store the day’s essentials and looks great too, perfect for girls on the move.

Who do you think rocked the floral trend best?

Holly x
The Nica Team 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Nica’s Trip to Seoul (Story 2.) – Samchung-dong

During my trip to Seoul, I had another must-see place in my mind: Samchung-dong. Seoul Central is very energetic and even frenetic at some point as the one of the main districts in the biggest city in South Korea. However, this amazing town makes me feel nostalgic and exotic at the same time with its mix of the traditional and contemporary atmosphere.

I have heard that Samchung-dong actually has been created by Korean independent artists and designers from diverse areas; as a result there is a wide variety of idiosyncratic shops and art galleries to see in this district, which has totally a different mood to Gangnam. I always find stillness and even inner-peace of myself in this tranquil and stylish street amid the hectic swirl of urban life in Seoul.

Whenever I visit to this area, I am always amazed by these wonderful arrangements made by independent fashion designers around this area; they are usually minimal but incredibly thoughtful!

Also, looking around a variety of vintage shops, art galleries and sophisticated coffee shops, each with its own magnificent idea and style always amuses me…

During my journey in Samchung-dong, I was very keen to discover some inspiration for my design from its amazing contemporary interpretation of the Korean traditional features with its own playfulness and fun! Yes, including a beautiful ray of sunshine in Seoul as well!

It’s time to pack up my bag to go back to London now. I cannot wait to implement these inspirational features that I’ve taken from my hometown for my next collection!

Love, Nica Kim xxx

Nica’s Trip to Seoul - The Simone Handbag Museum

I was really looking forward to being in my hometown, Seoul, once I finished my sourcing trip to China, partially due to the image below. I was given this image on my birthday last year by one of my friends, Jin, who curated for the Simone Handbag Museum in Seoul. 

Once she came back to London, she strongly recommended that I visit the Simone Handbag Museum, saying ‘Nica, you should definitely see some of this museum’s displays! There are lots of amazing historical handbags that will inspire you!’ 

The Simone Handbag Museum is located in Garosu-Gil, Gangnam district which is one of the most fashion-forward neighborhoods in Seoul – yes, this is the area that you might have heard about in Psy’s song.J This street is occupied with a number of unique independent designer shops and stylish cafes.

Even when I first came across the “Simone Handbag Museum” space in Garosu-gil, I was so amazed with it’s committed and timeless showcase – the building is shaped like a giant handbag! 

I was eager to start my inspirational journey through this museum, which has a collection of over 300 historical handbags from the 15th century to recent decades. The 3rd floor was filled with sparkling handbags made from the 1910s to the present. It was fascinating to see exceptional designs throughout the decades, including iconic contemporary handbag styles like the Hermes Kelly and the original Louis Vuitton cosmetic case made for Wallis Simpson.

“I'm thinking balls are to men what purses are to women.
It's just a little bag, but we feel naked in public without it. [Carrie]”

- Sex and the City

I was especially impressed by the fourth floor which displayed exquisitely made historical handbags from the 16th century to the early 20th century. The most interesting pieces on this floor for me were the bags from the Victorian era, which showed an extraordinary level of craftsmanship.

Inner view of fourth floor

The bags on this floor were over 300 years old and still looked beautiful and even contemporarily sophisticated at some points. Yes, styles come and go!

I absolutley loved seeing those beautiful bags and getting inspiration for my next designs. I hope you also enjoyed this glimpse of my hometown and one of its must-see attractions…

Love Nica Kim