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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Beautiful Soul: meet Nicola Woods, ethical fashion designer extraordinaire

Nicola Woods of Beautiful Soul only graduated in 2008 from the London College of Fashion after an extended hiatus on the wrong career path... here's a taster of my interview with her in ACOFI.

Written by Amelia Gregory

ZarinaLiew_BeautifulSoul_FW10
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.

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