The legendary style creative worked his way up the clothing industry from the bottom without having a game plan.
Now a respected international stylist and designer, the 34-year-old dropped out of studying fashion at university after one week and spent the next three years partying.
“I did not study fashion. I started working in a cutting-edge store in SoHo in London and that’s where I met everyone. Working in a store and being a shop assistant, if you don’t know what to do and you like fashion, I think it’s a great way of getting into the business because you do windows, cleaning, and everything,” he told fashion journalist Colin McDowell. “That was my school for two years, working in a shop and that’s how I met people in magazines and designers.”
Now a major force in the fashion industry, Nicola was appointed creative director of French label Thierry Mugler in 2010.
The fashion star almost didn’t take the position because he was worried about not living up to the role.
“Creative director sounds amazing but I am just a collaborator. I just have a great team, a great atelier. And I just sort of help them out laughs…, I do more than that,” he joked. “I got the call two years ago and I declined at the very beginning. Thierry Mugler was my absolute favorite and I didn’t want to insult him. I was very scared.”
Credited as the stylist extraordinaire whose vision turned a fledgling Lady Gaga into the iconic pop star she is today, Nicola also recalled how he started working with the star.
“I was listening to her music three or four years ago. She was known, but not famous. I saw her in an outfit that looked like she copied it on Style.com. I wanted to do a shoot with her but many magazines declined. V magazine agreed, but nobody wanted to lend me clothes because she wasn’t cool. Too vulgar. People were really quite against her,” he said. “Very few were supportive like Alexander McQueen and Prada. Prada always says she likes bad taste. Now that I think about it, maybe she likes Lady Gaga because she likes bad taste. Gaga made my creations alive. That was very exciting for me. It was like my creation had a voice.”