Despite his initial training and critical acclaim as a menswear designer, Nico DiDonna also knows his way around a woman’s body…. like the varying ways materials drape effortlessly around the curves of the bosom and hips, giving just enough snatch on the waistline (with room to accommodate lockdown weight).
He’s good at what he does and it shows.
I’m not one to miss an opportunity to play dress-up when I’m in the presence of Soho’s renowned Italian-born designer. I listen intently to his responses to my attempts to conduct an interview, which turns out more like a casual catch up with a friend who allows you access to their extensive wardrobe. I’m mesmerised by my transformation in an outfit chosen for me to try on. I can’t hide my awe of his genius in producing multi-functioning garments, many of which are designed with minimal fabric waste.
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“All the products we do are mostly one-off, making it selective to the person wanting to buy. Most of our clients, they really want me to assist them, to help them.” And I can see why. Nico has an elegance and charm about him which puts you immediately at ease. There’s no judgement in his presence. The body is merely a mannequin to be transformed and adorned with his limited-edition masterpieces, that’s enough to make anybody feel special. “Even when they come the first thing they ask is ‘Is Nico in?’ and if I’m not here, they say ‘OK I’ll come when Nico is in!'” But now they’re less spoiled! “They’ve been buying online, securing what they want, because they know me, they know my product… for once they cannot have my undivided attention!”
Nico, a London College of Fashion graduate, opened his first atelier in Berwick Street in 1999. It was there that he established himself as a ready-to-wear menswear designer. His cutting edge bespoke tailoring collections became iconic on London’s new millennium club scene, while as a designer, his Italian heritage is integral to his brand identity. He has always made it a point to merge tradition with multicultural London, which has resulted in the sleek Nico Didonna signature look.
Nico reflects back to ’97 and his humble beginnings, “All of this, I started from my kitchen, no investors.” An opportunity arose to rent a tiny space inside what’s now the Rainforest Cafe. “I thought, ‘on a Friday, in a club, how am I going to sell clothes?’… well, you wouldn’t believe how popular it was. It put me on the map! That’s how I started.” And long may Nico continue.
“My biggest lesson from the past year is that you can never rely on tomorrow. If you can’t do it today” he dismisses with a wave, “that’s it! That’s my takeaway.”
📍 Nico DiDonna 29 Great Windmill St, Soho, London W1D 7LN
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