It sometimes takes eleven years of work in insurance business and one trip around the world to realise you want to be a designer. Nicola Woods got to Tokyo to find out what she really wants is a career that will offer infinite opportunities and chances. And because it’s never too late, at the age of 29, she took up a course in Fashion, Design and Technology at London College of Fashion upon her return to the UK.
“If you have a plan and you’re believing it will happen, it will” said Nicola, who launched her brand Beautiful Soul in 2009. And by 2010, there was a début ready-to-wear collection and a studio on the enviable Portobello Road. But does it mean that she never felt this flair for fashion before now? Of course not. Watching her grandmothers, Rose and Oliva, wearing these exquisite vintage pieces was stimulating. They were real ‘English Roses’. Her collection ‘Olivia Rose’ has been a sign of remembrance to her grandparents in general. The video Beautiful Soul prepared for London Fashion Week in September 2012, promoting their collection for AW 2012/2013 season, was entirely dedicated to them. “I named Beautiful Soul London , AW12 collection ‘Olivia Rose’ after my two grandmothers and drew inspiration from the love letters they each wrote in code to their sweethearts, my grandfathers, whilst separated during the Second World War. I was fortunate enough to meet them all, each of whom I shared a very special bond. They would share stories with me about their ‘courting’ days and the love letters they wrote to each other whilst separated during the Second World War. I hold these stories closely to my heart and when my grandfather past away last year, who was also the last of my grandparents, I wanted to translate the positive influence they each had on my life. They were incredible role models.” The song in the video was specially written and performed by Nicola’s friend Eddie Halliday and the lyrics tell about the love her grandparents shared despite being separated by war.
Nicola may seem a little bit immersed in the past and that’s because when she starts designing, she begins from scratch, reminiscing on all the memories of her family, friendships and childhood experiences. She focuses on floral motifs with specifics on roses, poppies and daisies, also using a lot of lace and organic satin. Everything is manufactured in the UK and environmentally friendly. The philosophy behind her designs is to create clothes that are ‘elegant, but leave something to the imagination’.
It seems like this slightly old-fashioned approach is a way of distinguishing herself. Nicola was chosen to represent the contemporary British design at the Heritage Display of British Fashion this year in front of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, as part of celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. “It was a privilege to present my collection there and meet the Queen” said a charming Nicola.
So who is her perfect client? Simply put, and not surprising, someone with a beautiful soul!’ And what is her life philosophy? “Life is precious and it is up to you to make it. If something is up against you, turn it into a positive”.She believes she is open-minded, but still grounded, perhaps a good trait to possess in this somewhat unpredictable industry. Her future plans do not reveal a lot yet, or maybe they do, but I can’t guess what they are. “I want to be happy and content with what I am doing”. The only thing I know for certain is her current obsession with sushi, but for what the future holds, I guess we will just have to watch this space!
Written by Marta Knaś