- Elizabeth Mikutowicz -
THE ORDER is self described as "jet-black, rebellious, and compelling" and we couldn't agree more. A Chicago based clothing line and the brainchild of Nicole Maret, the line features lux womenswear with unique silhouettes in seductive textiles. Like a double entendre, THE ORDER has mastered an impeccably tasteful approach to the monochromatic look, while maintaining a sense of variation through mixing different textures and textiles.
Reading her Manifesto it's clear that for Nicole, designing, creating, or wearing her garments is far more than just that. It is a statement about what she believes and how she truly feels at her core. Her reverie of the unknown and undefined is magically translated into each and every one of her garments.
Birds N Bones became acquainted with Nicole and THE ORDER after we were both featured on Velvit. From there, we and the opportunity to collaborate with Nicole for her most recent line, entitled WOLF.
Hi Nicole, thanks so much for chatting with us! I'm very curious to learn about the genesis of this line. Did you always know you'd be a clothing designer?
I grew up wanting to be everything from a dolphin trainer to a magician, and graduated with a BFA in Art only after changing my major 6 times…and even then, I still thought of fashion as only a hobby. Creativity and clothing have been paramount in my life from day one though - I was sent home from school at age 6 with a note explaining that I had been “unnecessarily feisty” in defending my multiple hair scrunchies to a classmate…in my defense, the poor child did not know what an “accessory” was and I clearly felt it my duty to explain it to her.
Kindergarten anecdotes aside, I have more engineering and tactical prowess than my hair color and demeanor might suggest and am equally left- and right-brained in my day-to-day operations. Fashion design turned out to be the perfect way to merge the two sides, allowing me to dream up creative ways to adorn the human body and then strategically devise and execute their construction. It’s the best of both worlds in my ever-preoccupied brain, and I can’t think of another outlet that honors that as wholly.
Tell us about your latest collection, WOLF?
WOLF is a visual and conceptual deconstruction of the lupine archetype, and the striking contradiction of forces that the female wolf embodies: independent yet loyal and dangerous yet vulnerable, she can manifest neither extreme without the presence of the other. An endeavor to further unite and exalt seemingly opposing forces, WOLF is true to THE ORDER’s defining conviction that all expectations are meant to be defied.
The garments that comprise WOLF are both heavy and structured as well as sheer and feminine, formulating a rigid and sensual aesthetic that visually reflects the collection’s premise. True to THE ORDER’s layering prowess, the pieces in the collection are powerful on their own but become potent when worn together. The softer, lingerie-inspired pieces are akin to the wolf’s inner vulnerability, while the more structured pieces represent her exterior ‘armor.’ Worn in sets, they suggest a metaphor for the emotional strength we construct to protect what we cherish beneath the surface..
This being your 4th collection, how has this evolved from your first collection?
As the fourth collection, WOLF is another nod to the brand’s penchant for ethereal narratives and exploring the unfamiliar. It’s a continuation of the female-focused narrative that carries one collection to the next, and is consistent and evolutionary with regard to concept but aesthetically is a bit more feminine than previous collections.
I really wanted to emphasize the inner strength we strive for as women, and the potency of feeling beautiful on the outside and being confident and powerful on the inside.
The pieces are easier to ‘understand’ upon first glance as opposed to those from previous collections, and as a result I think they resonate with a wider audience.
What type of woman would wear this collection, or any collection of yours, for that matter? Who are you designing for?
Most of the collections I create are premised on imaginary universe and the women who inhabit it - because they don’t truly exist, the boundaries of creativity are endless. Each piece was designed with form preceding function, with the ultimate focus being the way the pieces make the wearer feel. I genuinely believe this prevents me from typecasting my consumer, which perpetuates my conviction that expectations are meant to be defied.
For WOLF, the opposing forces of danger and vulnerability were the driving concepts behind each garment- I wanted them to simultaneously invoke a feeling of shy sexiness and bold power. That being said, this collection (and any) is for any women who is interested in the pieces, what they represent and the way they make her feel.
I love the names you've given each piece-tell me about that creative process and what the names represent for you?
The names of the pieces are meticulously chosen, and I love that process. Because each collection is so conceptually driven, the name of each piece is significant. Those that comprise WOLF all have names inspired by elements that I imagine to be present in a female wolf’s world, and nod conceptually to a corresponding aesthetic detail in that particular piece. For example, virago is archaically defined as “a woman of masculine strength or spirit; a female warrior” which is well-suited to the two pieces that bear that name. The Virago Legging and Virago Bodysuit are both a bit “sportier” than other pieces in the collection, but still have delicately sheer elements that keep them in the feminine domain.
Translating what I know from jewelry design to clothing design, the creative process of conceptualizing through launching is MONTHS long.
How do you approach that and what does that process look like for you?
It’s so long! Each collection takes about 3 months go from idea to storefront, but it still always feels rushed. I hand-make the samples in my Chicago atelier, shoot the collections and gauge their impact, and then decide how to produce (either one-offs or wholesale) depending on the demand…predictability does not work in my favor. The only think that’s a guarantee is that I’m always simultaneously working on three collections in some capacity - at the moment AW16 (WOLF) is still being featured on my site and with my stockists, SS17 is in wholesale sales and set to launch next month, and AW17 is created and about to be photographed.
After being featured alongside Birds N Bones on Velvit, what spoke to you about our collections and why did you feel we'd be a good match for what you were looking for?
I have adored what Birds N Bones create from the moment I first saw their work on Velvit, and when I started envisioning jewelry pieces for WOLF the site’s curator suggested Birds N Bones as a collaboration partner. Given that the collection was Wolf-inspired and the organically-driven aesthetic of the BnB pieces, it was truly the perfect fit. Zoe and Ashley were a dream to work with - they understood what I was going for immediately, and literally translated a concept I had in my mind into stunning silver works of art. I loved working with them and plan to do it again at some point.
Any other great collaborations or new collections in the works that we can look forward to?
My fifth collection, SS17 entitled V, will be launching next month - this one takes a cleaner, more masculine approach to lingerie and luxe-leisure, and is premised on the concept of design driven by intuition rather than strategy. As for collaborations, I do have a few in the works - I’m not ready to announce any yet, but I can say that film and some definitive accessories are around the corner.