Designer Nicole Miller staying in touch, up-to-date

September 30, 1993|By Carol Loyd | Carol Loyd,Contributing Writer

It would not be unusual to find 41-year-old designer Nicole Miller personally waiting on clients in her Madison Avenue Boutique.

She likes to keep in touch with the public. She finds out which styles are in demand by frequenting the Manhattan nightclub scene.

"Her styles are always up-to-date," says Mary Carroll, owner of Panache of Greenspring Station, where a trunk show of Nicole Miller designs was presented Tuesday to benefit the Johns Hopkins Oncology Center.

Ms. Carroll says the line is all style without the eccentricity.

Ms. Miller's touch with reality keeps her on track and, sometimes, ahead of the pack. She bucked the N.Y. fashion establishment's push for long skirts and included short in her fall collection. And she's walking pretty now that influential European designers have "rediscovered" short skirts.

"I'm so tired of those silly print dresses," she says. "I never found it attractive, that hippy, Bohemian look. I'm all for short."

Ms. Miller is known for creating fashions that flatter the body.

At her first job with P. J. Walsh, a contemporary clothing manufacturer, she established a reputation as an expert on body camouflage.

After seven years as a designer for P. J. Walsh, she and partner Bud Konheim purchased the business from the parent company in 1982, changing the name to Nicole Miller.

Seven years ago, for the opening of her first boutique on Madison Avenue, she started developing accessories ideas for the store.

PTC She sent some old, whimsical dress fabrics to Korea to be reprinted onto silk and made into ties.

Her building's security guard wore one to the Metropolitan Opera, which became her first major patron.

After 11 years of designing for women, the Nicole Miller label found fame with the funky-print ties.

This week, she is introducing two fresh ventures: Nicole Miller fragrance, which she describes as "aura flora" and "fresh-smelling," and a collection of watches.

Like her ties, the watches will incorporate conversational motifs such as dinosaurs, sport and motorcycles.

Today, she has 13 boutiques around the world: from West Hollywood, California, to Seoul, South Korea, and her line is featured in department stores throughout the North America.

Panache will carry the complete collection of prints.

Miller's fashions are priced more reasonably than those of many other top designers. Prices for accessories, which include socks, eyeglass cases, backpacks and weekend luggage, begin at $10. Dress prices range from $125-$900.

"The novelty designs are the best sellers," says Ms. Carroll.

"Each one is unique and they hit home with people because they favor hobbies or what you do professionally. You're wearing your personality."

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