Nicole Sykes from BESS. Image supplied.
Nicole Sykes turned her passion for design and keen eye for colour into BESS, a silk scarves brand that debuted this month. The beautiful scarves are designed by Nicole and produced in silk twill and silk crêpe de chine and then carefully hand finished. She is excited to turn her life long love of fashion into a business and has created a playful campaign for her striking first collection.
We caught up with Nicole to find out more about her brand, what inspires here and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
Gemscape 01. is my debut collection. The designs are inspired by the modernists, specifically the geometric paintings and textiles of Sonja Delaunay and the bold shapes of Alexander Calder’s kinetic sculptures. The name Gemscape comes from a fascination I have always had with gemstone structures, which are woven throughout the eight designs.
What made you become a designer?
I’ve loved colour, pattern and print for as long as I can remember. I studied design at Elam School of Fine Arts and then went on to become and Art Director in the advertising industry, but I’ve had a long-term love affair with fashion and accessories in particular, so I guess this was an inevitable coming together of my passions. I lived in Europe for a number of years and spent my weekends wandering through the amazing scarf and handbag halls of department stores like Liberty, Selfridges, and Harvey Nichols, that probably had an impact too!
What inspires you?
Other creative forces of nature. In my day job as an Art Director I have been lucky enough to work alongside and collaborate with, some of the most talented, amazing creative people on the planet – from photographers to film directors, illustrators, artists, musicians and writers. All of whom have inspired me to do more, to do better, to keep exploring and keep pushing the boundaries.
BESS campaign image from the Gemscape 01 collection.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
I love a patterned, or bright block coloured silk shirt, mostly teamed with jeans. I love to mix luxe and casual together, which is exactly my approach to Bess. I want the luxury feel of a silk scarf with the edginess of its designs and colour combinations. Something I can throw on just as easily with a tee-shirt, as I can with a dress for a night out.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
That’s a hard one. I’d probably have to say given the season, my Marc Jacobs black ¾ length wool coat. It’s black with big gold buttons, a striped lining and it’s WARM. Something that’s not always easy to find in New Zealand. It has kept me both toasty and stylish whilst riding my pink Raleigh bike through the streets of Dublin in January, as well as Auckland’s notorious wintry cold snaps that catch everyone off guard! I can throw it over a tee, or a dress and it always looks fabulous.
What wardrobe item should every woman invest in?
A designer jacket. It’s the one item I always spend money on. I never scrimp on a jacket purchase. I am pretty hard on mine, as I tend to team a jacket with most outfits. I have a Kooples black biker jacket that I live in from summer through to winter. Good tailoring is key in a jacket, a cheap one just doesn’t last the distance.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Wear it your own way. I don’t tend to follow style rules or trends, I like to make my own ones. If it feels good then rock it with confidence.
BESS campaign images from the Gemscape 01 collection.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I think my first organic customer on the website was probably the most exciting. Someone that was not a friend, a friend of a friend, or a family member. To see someone actually find bess.studio, check out the collection and then purchase a scarf, still gives me butterflies in my stomach. It is an amazing feeling to have a complete stranger want to wear one of your designs. I can’t wait to see someone actually walk past me in one in the street!
What can’t you live without?
I can’t live without my Tom Ford Black Orchid perfume. We are joined at the hip and have been for a number of years. I wear it whether I’m going out, or staying on the couch all day. It’s the first thing I put on every morning without fail.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
I have to say Crocs. It’s never going to happen, even if Christopher Kane did bring them to the runway this fall all glammed up with fur trim, I just couldn’t do it.