In the age of hype, the impulse to produce a beautiful garment purely because there's a creative compulsion is increasingly rare. But not if you're Nicholas Wolf, the New York-based independent designer making clothes and accessories purely for the love of the craft. You might even call it an obsession.
Although, perhaps we're the ones who are obsessed.
A pair of Wolf's patent red leather pants adorned with silver spikes recently caught our eye as a stand-out piece. They're something to wear when you just want to let your clothes do the talking, especially if that message is "don't come too close."
Elsewhere in Wolf's label, you'll find abstract maxi dresses, faux-fur sleeves, and cow-print flares — most recently, he added an elliptic handbag to his nascent collections.
As Wolf's brand Until Further Notice is under construction, we caught up with him to find out what he's up to. Below you'll find the highlights from our chat, including discussions on anime and Freddy Mercury, and his future couture ambitions.
Tell us about your background
I was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Trinidad and Belize. I moved back to New York when I was 12 years old, then I moved to Texas, and then back to New York at 18. Coming back to America and teaching myself English again was difficult because there were bullies and people didn't understand me. I just didn't get along with anyone. So I just poured myself into fashion, clothes, and styling myself. That would separate me from having to talk to people because I dealt with social anxiety a lot as a kid.
What makes you want to make clothing and who do you make it for?
I honestly just love making clothes. It's what brings me excitement. For me, happiness is just making clothes. Fashion has been or been in my life since I was born. My mom worked in fashion and my dad was a fly person. When I was growing up she would send me out in one outfit and he would send me back to her in another.
I'm not exactly making it for "the customer" – I'm just making it. Issey Miyake said that he "lets a fabric make itself" as in he can't sketch an idea before he makes a piece of clothing and I stand by that a lot. I come up with the idea after I find a fabric and I think, "I wonder where I could see this going?"
Talk to us about the spiky red leather pants
Well, I was going to Miami and I was like, okay, I need an outfit and I want to wear my own stuff. I wanted to make some pants covered in spikes for a long time, but there's a lot to do. I sewed the pants after I put the spike bits on one by one, about 50 on the front and two on the back. Half of it is based on the anime character Ban from Seven Deadly Sins, but he only had it around his waist, so I imagined covering the entire leg in spikes, I thought that would be fire. I would love to see Playboi Carti in them.
How are you honing your craft?
I'm doing a challenge where I have to create a new design every week for a whole year. I give myself a deadline every week to create something new. A lot of people won't agree with it, but it works for me.
Your own personal style is pretty enviable. Who or what inspires you as far your own fashion choices are concerned?
I think of Lenny Kravitz, Jimi Hendrix, Slash, Freddie Mercury, Prince...so it's just like ’70s style, but it depends on how I feel. Most of the time I'm in my leather pants with boots, but sometimes I wear my Jordan ones with pants and a hoodie, other times it's more Yohji Yamamoto style. It really just depends on the day.
What about your interest in couture? Why does it appeal?
I have this obsession with women's dresses, gowns, and couture pieces. It just calls to me and it's something I take very seriously and deeply to my heart. Growing up in fashion made me the person I am and for me personally, I love women's fashion more than men's fashion. The movement in Iris van Herpen's pieces inspires me especially.
How would you like to reveal your work in the future?
The thing is I've been offered to do fashion shows already. I had to turn it down because I have an idea for how I want my first fashion show to be and it's an enormous idea and I don't care how long it takes. I'd rather wait to execute my idea than rush it.
So, until then I'm just focused on executing my releases through films, lookbooks, photoshoots, and just trying to figure out different ways to showcase people like stopping, going to the city, stopping traffic, stopping everyone, and just having models walk through. Because that's how New York is. People will stop and record. People will stop and pay attention and there's a lot of ways to showcase art in this city.
Until Further Notice is opening soon.