Amelia’s Magazine | Beautiful Soul: meet Nicola Woods, ethical fashion designer extraordinaire

Beautiful Soul A/W 2010 by Zarina Liew.

You started out as an insurance broker so you’ve have had an unconventional career so far. Why and how did you become a fashion designer?
As a young girl, approved treatment I wanted to be a fashion designer, shop but life has its twists and turns and I found myself caught up in the rat race for eleven years. I lacked passion for my work but I didn’t know how I would cope without my luxuries and the next pay rise. Then I had the opportunity to backpack around the world for six months with my best friend and for the first time in my adult life I realised that I could live on a budget. I started to see life in a different light, with endless opportunities. Whilst in Tokyo, something happened to me: I was surrounded by the most amazing boutiques and I was like a child in a sweet shop. Mesmerised. Excited. Totally inspired. I realised that I needed to make radical changes to my lifestyle in order to make my dreams a reality and I haven’t looked back since. I graduated from the London College of Fashion with a BA(Hons) in Fashion, Design and Technology in 2008. During my final year, I was involved in a project based around ‘saving the earth’. I was hooked. Fashion with a TRUE meaning, for me, is the only way, and my ethos helps me to focus and push forward.

Beautiful Soul A/W 2010 by Zarina Liew
Beautiful Soul by Zarina Liew

Why did you decide to specialise in creating adjustable garments?
I set out to create timeless designs that will be favoured pieces in the wardrobe for a lifetime and multi-functionality renders a garment timeless, as it can be worn to suit different moods and seasons. A woman’s curves change regularly and it’s frustrating when a zip or button will not close. I therefore avoid using conventional fastening in my designs and instead explore alternative methods. I love to experiment and delve below the surface of fashion, discovering new ways to incorporate responsibility through use of distinctive materials and design innovation.

What does your zero waste policy mean in practicality?
I am extremely fond of fabric and I hate to see it go to waste! I upcycle vintage kimonos to create new garments that hold a greater value; when I dismantle a kimono I am left with very limited panels of fabric, only 38cm wide. It’s important that I work with these restrictions and nurture an understanding of the fabric availability. Any leftover fabric will be placed aside and then revisited the following season, where I set myself the challenge of designing a new piece based on the leftovers. I have just designed Beautiful Soul’s third collection, S/S 2011’s Believe, and the leftover fabrics have been transformed into a range of unique corsets and shoulders pads in our menswear jackets. Material remnants feature as fastenings and embellishments, adhering to the policy of zero waste whereby every last thread of fabric is used in the creative process….

Beautiful Soul SS:11 Believe was created with Zarina Liew after she made contact with Nicola Woods to complete her submission to be in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Music was provided by Amelia’s Magazine favourite Gabby Young and Other Animals.

Read the rest of this interview and see more illustrations of Beautiful Soul’s clothing in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, alongside interviews with 44 other ethical fashion designers and 30 fabulous fashion illustrators. You can buy the book here.

Categories ,Beautiful Soul, ,Eco fashion, ,Ethical designer, ,Gabby Young and Other Animals, ,Kimono, ,London College of Fashion, ,Nicola Woods, ,tokyo, ,Zarina Liew

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Amelia’s Magazine | What Does Colour Mean To You? Submit Your Story For A Chance To Make A Film And Win £250

This is Orange by Sarah Edmonds
This is Orange by Sarah Edmonds.

A recent chat with friends led to a discussion about what colour we intrinsically ‘were’. Fascinatingly we all agreed on the colours that came to mind, as if subconsciously they were obvious to us all. Colour is absolutely intrinsic to the way we feel, the way we look and the way we act. And for illustrators and artists it plays an enormous part in the creation of work. Of course many of us see colours differently (a huge amount of men, for instance, suffer some form of colour blindness) and colours also mean different things to different people. Why, for instance, do I love bright red and green, but dislike orange brown? I find it absolutely fascinating.

Now a major lifestyle brand is planning to collect stories of how people have been positively impacted by colour. They would like to know what your relationship is with a particular colour, what three words you would associate with it, and what kind of details from your life, your culture and your home have played a part in your opinion of that colour. To get involved you can submit your story as words, photography and video: the most compelling one will be filmed by leading film makers Blair & Oliver and edited into a short documentary about how colour has affected lives. If you submit the best story you’ll win £250.

What better way to get you inspired than a series of illustrations exploring what colour means to some of my contributors. To take part in this open callout send your stories to along with your contact details. The deadline for submission is 1st March 2013.

Green by Cissy Hu. When I see green, my eyelashes will become a forest. The creatures of imagination will come out and play. Everything goes lively above the lake of heart (the eyes).

The Colour Pink by Christine Charnock
The Colour Pink by Christine Charnock. The colour pink has so many beautiful and versatile shades – from vibrant and bold, to calming and subdued. In the natural world, the colour pink is present in many fascinating forms. The sky of a sunset, flora and fauna, and the flamingo bird are particularly memorable and beautiful examples. Pink always seems to create a positive, uplifting and cheerful vibe, and this is one of the reasons why I adore this colour.

green is such a relaxing colour by Joanna Boyle
Green is such a relaxing colour by Joanna Boyle. My favourite time of year is spring time, when everything starts to get green after months of rain and cold. I associate the colour green with feeling calm and refreshed. As a result I love visiting green houses and like to keep lots of plants in my flat!

Turquoise Planet by Laura Redburn
Turquoise Planet by Laura Redburn. I absolutely love all colours, and colour is my world. Turquoise is my favourite, though. It both gives me energy and keeps me calm. I like to always have this colour around me because it also helps me feel creative but not overwhelmed. I feel as if there’s something magical about it that other colours don’t possess. To me it’s representative of earth and life.

Yellow Portrait of Silvia Pezzati by Rosa Crepax, Illustrated Moodboard
Yellow Portrait of Silvia Pezzati by Rosa Crepax, Illustrated Moodboard. My friend Silvia is the ‘yellowest’ person I know. Yellow is a very happy colour, I’ve always associated it with sunshine, cheerfulness and intellectual creativity. She is enthusiastic about everything, warm, bright and she actually smiles sun!

Green by Gemma Hampton
Green by Gemma Hampton. Green is my favourite colour. To me, it represents growth and freedom. As a keen gardener, I am forever fascinated when planting a seed and watching it spring into life, growing stronger and healthier by the day. I enjoy studying this process of development and feel a deep sense of satisfaction in the knowledge that I am nurturing this new life. 

Red by Gemma Cotterell
Red by Gemma Cotterell. I chose to illustrate red shown as a ‘mothers love’ – to me the colour projects power, warmth, love, strength, passion, and permanence. The beating heart is life itself, protected unconditionally by the flowering cactus, which symbolises maternal love.

Categories ,Blair & Oliver, ,Christine Charnock, ,Cissy Hu, ,colour, ,Colour blindness, ,competition, ,film, ,Gemma Cotterell, ,Gemma Hampton, ,Illustrated Moodboard, ,Joanna Boyle, ,Laura Redburn, ,Open Callout, ,Rosa Crepax, ,Sarah Edmonds, ,Silvia Pezzati

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