Nicole Phelps, Director of Vogue Runway, lives in New York City with her husband and son. As our first interview of IN THE STUDIO, we had a chance to hear more on what Nicole has witnessed over the years.
HOW DID YOU FIRST BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH JONATHAN COHEN?
I got to know Jonathan when he was a finalist in the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2018. He stood out from the very start of the competition.
FOR YOUR PHOTOSHOOT WITH THE STUDIO, YOU HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO STYLE YOUR OWN LOOK. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE PARTICULAR OUTFIT YOU WERE PHOTOGRAPHED IN?
I love a midi dress with a 1930s-ish line!
THE FASHION INDUSTRY IS CHANGING AT SUCH A RAPID PACE. WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FOR THE FUTURE OF FASHION? ADDITIONALLY, WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE MOST EXCITING OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE FUTURE OF FASHION?
Global warming is the challenge of all of our lifetimes. Governments aren't doing enough—or really much of anything—to combat it. So the onus (and opportunity) falls on makers to change production methods and on consumers to shop sparingly and wisely.
I REMEMBER SEEING STYLE.COM IN HIGH SCHOOL; THE WEBSITE INTRODUCED ME TO A REALM OF FASHION I NEVER HAD ACCESS TO BEFORE. YOU WERE SUCH A PIONEER IN THE GROWTH OF THE DIGITAL AGE OF FASHION, HOW DO YOU THINK THE INTERNET HAS CHANGED THE WORLD OF LUXURY FASHION?
Pre-2000, you were lucky if you saw a handful of pictures from a show in Women's Wear Daily or the New York Times. Each season, we'd make scrapbooks of WWD page ones and doubles (where they ran the runway photos). It sounds like the dark ages, doesn't it? Style.com made it all available to everyone. It changed how insiders did their work, how fashion obsessives shopped, and, a little more darkly, how fast fashion brands found their ideas. Interestingly, Style.com was launched the same year H&M arrived in the US.
I CAME ACROSS AN INTERVIEW IN WHICH YOU MENTIONED THAT IN 2004 YOUR COLLEAGUES WERE SURPRISED BY YOUR DECISION TO MOVE FROM EDITING PRINT MAGAZINES TO DIGITAL. WHAT INSTINCT LED YOU TO MAKE THE SWITCH FROM PRINT TO DIGITAL?
Style.com had become such a valuable tool for me in my work as a magazine editor. I knew I couldn't be the only one!
EVERY FASHION MONTH YOU REVIEW SO MANY SHOWS AND ALWAYS HAVE INSIGHTFUL OPINIONS ON BOTH THE CLOTHING AND CONTEXT OF COLLECTIONS. DO YOU NATURALLY HAVE A SENSE OF HOW FASHION SHOWS SIT IN THE GREATER WORLD CLIMATE OR DOES THIS INSIGHT COME FROM SPEAKING WITH THE BRAND?
I love going backstage and talking to designers; you can learn a lot about what's going on in their minds doing that. But that's just part of what writing a review is about. At Vogue Runway we like to consider a collection in the context of what a designer has done before, what other designers are doing at the moment, and what the collection says about the world around us. The most powerful shows are usually the ones that address "the big picture" somehow.
YOU OFTEN SIT ON PANELS JUDGING COMPETITIONS FOR YOUNG DESIGNERS, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A NEW BRAND?
A unique point of view is the single most important thing for young designers to cultivate.
WHAT’S YOUR BEST RESOURCE FOR DISCOVERING NEW BRANDS?
The Vogue Runway team, of course.
WE LOVED WATCHING YOU GET PHOTOGRAPHED WITH YOUR SON! DID BECOMING A MOTHER CHANGE HOW YOU VIEWED FASHION AND YOUR CAREER?
Becoming a mom changes everything. I tell new mothers, "sorry, but you'll never be able to completely relax ever again!" Still, it's the absolute best. My son's 11. His middle school principal says I have maybe a year before he starts pushing me away like all pre-teens do, so I'm making the most of it. This fall we took a beginners crochet class together; he's much better than I am.