Nick Verreos

Style Interviews is excited to introduce to you Nick Verreos, Project Runway’s Season 2 alum and designer of NIKOLAKI fashion line. In this interview Nick talks about life after Project Runway, his partnership with David Paul creating NIKOLAKI fashions, his designing style, and his plans for the future.

When did your fascination with fashion design begin?
When I was very young, my family and I traveled because my dad was a Diplomat so I became fascinated with the uniforms of the flight attendant (remember it was the 70’s and they were cuter then). Then, in my early teens, I found myself drawn to looking at magazines such as Vogue, as opposed to looking at the Sports section of the newspaper. I would then be inspired and draw collections in my notebooks that my mom had bought me.

How did your involvement with Bravo’s Project Runway Season Two come about?
I watched season one of the show and loved it, of course. Then I began receiving emails and messages from friends in the industry telling me that the Season Two casting was taking place and that I would be perfect for it. As an established Southern California designer who had shown at LA Fashion Week, been in magazines already and was also an Instructor of Fashion Design, I was a bit apprehensive about doing it. I felt both that I was “above that” and at the same time, afraid that I would be rejected from that first round of casting and not even make the cut. Thank God I wasn’t. Looking back, I can’t believe I ever had those reservations or feelings.

How would you describe your experience on Project Runway?
Two words: Fashion Olympics! It was an incredible experience throughout. Some weird “fashion” adrenaline kicked in, that I never knew I had, and I was able to sustain the surreal work and living environment that the show asks of its designers/contestants. I loved being at Parsons and the thought of creating work that would then be seen my millions of people, including my friends and family. Up to then, I was growing disillusioned with the fashion industry as a whole and how much I had struggled and nothing seemed to be happening. The show gave me that bit of added battery life that has changed my outlook on life and work.

What projects have you been working on since the show?
Apart from continuing to design my line, NIKOLAKI, last year, I became part of the “Glam Squad” of fashion and beauty experts for MSN’s “Style Studio” which I am extremely proud of. I also became the Official Spokesperson for the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising/FIDM, the school I teach at. Besides this, I have been making appearances as a fashion expert/commentator on red carpet post-awards shows on TV Guide Channel as well as E!. Did I mention I barely sleep anymore?

“Nikolaki is for a confident, sexy, ultra feminine woman. I would love to have women as diverse as Charlize Theron, Panelope Cruz, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Kylie Minogue wear NIKOLAKI. A boy can dream, right?”

NIKOLAKI is a partnership between you and David Paul. How did this business relationship evolve and how do you make it work?
I began NIKOLAKI (which means “Little Nick” in Greek) in 2001, soon after Henri Bendel ordered my first dress line. I asked my partner, David Paul, if he wanted to be my design and business partner, because I could not do this alone. It’s like “Donny and Marie”—He’s a “little bit Country” and I’m a “little bit Rock & Roll” and when we design it is the perfect “ying” and “yang” situation. He tames me and makes all my drawings/ideas more palatable for an elegant, sexy every-day woman, as opposed to the South American Diva Princess (my “imaginary muse”) whom I design for.

Who do you see wearing NIKOLAKI?
Nikolaki is for a confident, sexy, ultra feminine woman. I would love to have women as diverse as Charlize Theron, Panelope Cruz, Queen Rania of Jordan, and Kylie Minogue wear NIKOLAKI. A boy can dream, right?

Can you tell us about the NIKOLAKI collection for this season?
For Spring ’08, I continued to take advantage of the “Grecian Goddess” theme that was in the air. The theme of my collection was “Cleopatra in Rome 2008” and what she would bring with her to meet her Marc Anthony. We did a group of sinuous white silk jersey draped gowns and then added some dresses in bold graphic floral prints, as well as bright turquoise and fuchsia colors.

Can you tell us about the NIKOLAKI collection for this season?
For Spring ’08, I continued to take advantage of the “Grecian Goddess” theme that was in the air. The theme of my collection was “Cleopatra in Rome 2008” and what she would bring with her to meet her Marc Anthony. We did a group of sinuous white silk jersey draped gowns and then added some dresses in bold graphic floral prints, as well as bright turquoise and fuchsia colors.

Where can we shop for NIKOLAKI fashions?
Before Project Runway, our line was available in over 100 stores, from Henri Bendel to Nordstrom, to high-end boutiques such as Fred Segal, Diavolina and EMc2 in Manhattan. I have scaled down because of my busy schedule and last year, we began selling “By Special Order” through our website, www.nikolakidesign.com. This has actually worked out really well. In the future, we hope to have a “web store”, where women can purchase NIKOLAKI tops and dresses online. The gowns will still only be available by appointment only.

Which celebrities have you designed for and how was it like collaborating with them?
I was very thrilled when last month, Academy Award-winning actress (and “Dancing With The Stars” contestant) Marlee Matlin wore my gown to the Oscars. That was a coup for us. Her stylist contacted us and actually picked a gown from the collection and the next thing we knew, we were watching her, in the gown, being interviewed by Regis Philbin at the Live Pre-Oscars Show. Also, we designed a custom gown for “Desperate Housewives” actress Brenda Strong for the ’06 SAG Awards, which subsequently made the “Best Dresses of ‘06” lists of several publications. This collaboration began with her publicist contacting us. We then worked together on everything from the style to the color and fabrication. It all depends on the client. Other actresses who have worn NIKOLAKI in the past have included Patricia Arquette, Eva Longoria, Melora Hardin of NBC’s “The Office” and TV presenters Nancy O’Dell and Debbie Matenopoulos.

How would you define your designing style?
My designing style is mixing confidence, elegance and sexiness. She’s the European socialite’s daughter; she’s the Kuwaiti Princess, or the woman from Kansas who is going to a Charity Black Tie event. When I design I pretend every girl has their own “red carpet’ moment. Men want her and women are jealous at how amazing she looks. My design philosophy involves fusing my Mediterranean heritage with Roman sculpture-like draping, sensuous lines with hints of historical past fashion and a look into the future.

Where do you draw the inspiration for the style and color of your designs?
Art, architecture, visiting museums (the Metropolitan in NY and Queen Sofia in Madrid are my favorites). Also, I love looking at costume and history of fashion books as well as going to the FIDM Library and scouring 1930’s and 1940’s Vogue’s and Bazaar’s for inspiration.

What does it take to succeed as a fashion designer?
Several things are important, including a passionate love for fashion of course, savvy business sense, recognition of “branding yourself” and perhaps more importantly, an investor from Dubai wouldn’t hurt, to throw you lots and lots of money for those first ten years until you finally turn a profit!

How would you describe your own style?
Quirky Elegant Dandy. In the past, I was very much into more casual Abercrombie and American Eagle clothes (the Southern Californian in me) but not too long ago, I had an epiphany and realized that I wasn’t 22 any more. I now wear mainly dress shirts, ties, handkerchiefs, vests and blazers. It’s Eurotrash with a touch of Savile Row tailoring perhaps—but from H & M and Zara!!!

What’s next for Nick Verreos?
I will continue designing my line and look forward to my MSN Style Studio shoots which I really love doing and hopefully helping more women achieve their “inner Diva” with my style advice. I will continue teaching and doing more fashion expert TV appearances. I think the world is ready for a bearded Greek-Venezuelan version of Carson Kressley and Tim Gunn, don’t you? (don’t answer that!)

It was such a pleasure to interview Nick you can discover all about his NIKOLAKI line at www.nikolakidesign.com

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