The new fall collection from highly touted UK corsetiè;re Nicole Gill offers a great example of why some young lingerie designers prefer to launch their own label rather than go for a steady job with an established brand.
Every piece in Nicole’s third collection, A Beautiful Sacrifice, uses the same shimmering burgundy colorway, whether it’s for a corset or a kimono or the smashing ruffled girdle in the photo above. It’s a bold strategy that creates a distinctive signature look: you’ll be able to spot a Nicole Gill piece in any crowd (or across a dimly lit bedroom) immediately.
But she wouldn’t get away with that if she were working for a major retail brand. Her design head would want the same set in all-black and one in ivory with contrasting champagne panels, and by the time it all reached the shop floor the burgundy hue might only be an accent color.
Happily, this isn’t a problem at the moment: Nicole (who’s only 23) has built a bustling post-graduate trade in a very short time by following her own instincts and inspirations. Her last collection followed a similar logic, playing off gold silk satin against black lace and mesh to create an opulent fin de siècle Parisian look. It was accomplished, widely admired and it’s still selling.
A Beautiful Sacrifice goes in a different direction, stylistically and thematically, but it will surely earn her some new fans. The collection is inspired by the story of Kim, the tragic and selfless heroine of Miss Saigon, and the red-and-black palette lends an Oriental flavor to the set.
“Miss Saigon is something I’ve kind of grown up with,” Nicole told us. “I used to be a dancer and the story always stuck with me. It’s all very romantic and quite dramatic.”
The centrepiece(s) of the collection are four new front-closing, steel-boned corsets, all with different silhouettes and very suitable for public display as outerwear pieces. Nicole bases her corset designs on authentic vintage patterns, and this collection borrows shapes from as far back as the 1840s. Each order is handmade to the customer’s measurements, and you probably don’t want to know how many hours go into each one!
Although Nicole has built her brand around her corset-making skills, A Beautiful Sacrifice also shows her trying out some new style ideas and exploring the endless possibilities of stretch lace and power mesh. There are a couple of daring see-thru bodysuits, along with a basque, a girdle and a suspender belt that use black mesh and lace panels — but to get the full effect you’ll want to pair them with the red silk satin bra or ruffled knickers.
The best way to get your hands on pieces from this very modern vintage-themed collection is through the Nicole Gill webshop, but keep in mind it’s all handmade so some of the more technical pieces will require a wait. Outside of the UK you can also order Nicole Gill through the U.S. boutique Bella Bella and later this month at the La Booteek fashion agency in Australia.
Below are some highlights from A Beautiful Sacrifice, shot in the gardens of a Birmingham castle and with Nicole’s sister Charlotte modeling the pieces.