Who’s Here: Nicole Miller, Designer and Ambassador of Taste

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American apparel designer Nicole Miller has played a prominent role in the fashion industry since the 1980s. This Texas-born designer now makes her home on the East End.

Like most fashion hopefuls, Miller’s path began with intensive schooling. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design where she earned a BFA in Apparel Design and continued her education while learning to perfect her skills in fabric manipulation and classical couture techniques in Paris, at L’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture.

Miller’s Parisian born mother shared her love for French style and culture with her children. Childhood memories of being dressed in French fashions and playing with French dolls provided a glimpse into Miller’s future. When asked who her biggest influence in fashion was, Miller replies, “My mother! She grew up in Paris and was a super stylist.” Miller also credits her father, who was an engineer for General Electric, with her success. Miller said in a New York magazine interview: “The way you figure out how to make something is engineering.”

Of course Miller’s earliest experiences included exposure to French culinary traditions. And, while studying in Paris, Miller became a connoisseur of fine food. She will serve as Ambassador of Taste at Dan’s Taste of Two Forks on July 14. This food and wine event featuring 40 restaurants and 20 wineries will be hosted by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and it will benefit local food pantries through the Have Heart Community Trust.

When Miller arrived on the fashion scene, her designs were heralded, but she had to earn the respect of her peers through a great deal of hard work. One of her first experiences was as an intern for famed designer Clovis Ruffin in New York, where she formed the foundation for her future. Her next job was as a head designer at the notable dress manufacturer, P.J. Walsh It was while working for P.J.  Walsh that Miller was recognized by the president of the company, Bud Konheim. In 1982, the company “Nicole Miller” was launched by Konheim.

During a time when fashion was at a turning point, Miller embraced bright colors, bold patterns and sexy necklines. She designed fashionable, trendy, form fitting and flattering apparel for the everyday woman. And, her “little black dress” is a testament to her talent and skill for designing what women desire.

Miller credits her appreciation for the arts, cinema, history, geography, the world and people as her inspiration each season, year after year.

Miller married financier Kim Taipale in 1996 and they have one son. She continues her support of and involvement with many charitable foundations.  Miller is involved with Riverkeeper, Rocky Mountain Institute and is a cabinet member of The American Red Cross.

Miller was one of the first American designers to break away from department store-only offerings when she opened her first boutique on Madison Avenue in 1986. Today her women’s line is offered in more than 1,200 specialty department stores in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia. Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdales all carry couture lines from Miller’s collections. Miller’s designs have been worn by celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Eva Longoria, Brook Shields and Beyoncé Knowles, just to name a few.

Miller has become a part of the American fashion culture and in recent years, her fame has afforded her invitations to be part of reality television.  She has appeared on “America’s Next Top Model,” Holland’s Next Top Model” and the ever popular, “The Apprentice.” Her honesty and warm personality add to her performance as a judge or guest.

Today’s customer base consists of a large cross section of people who enjoy a brand name with the feeling of luxury offered at a reasonable price point and Miller offers just that! Miller’s business savvy and instinct guided her to tap into a new and broader market. In 2005, she expanded her brand by collaborated with J.C. Penney to offer a more affordable line of apparel, accessories, shoes and handbags.  In addition, Miller designed a home furnishings line for Bed Bath and Beyond. Miller also creates a namesake makeup line for the membership-only retailer Melaleuca.

When Miller is not working on her next design, she enjoys real home cooking. These days, her passion for fashion may appear to compete with her passion for food. With appearances on “Iron Chef” as a guest judge, “Rocco’s Dinner Party” and “The Chopping Block” she has proven to be a force in the kitchen as well as the design house.

Miller’s latest endeavor is serving as food editor for The Daily Dan. She offers readers great food tips and delicious personal recipes through her column “Food Fixations with Nicole Miller.”  Whether it’s shopping at one of the East End’s farmers markets, sharing a recipe or an interesting experience, The Daily Dan is the perfect platform to showcase her love of food and cooking.

Miller enjoys spending much of her free time in the Hamptons. With a home base in North Haven, she frequents local shops and restaurants (in particular—Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor—her favorite restaurant.) “There is so much to love about the Hamptons, but I especially love cooking in the summer. The Hamptons have the freshest ingredients around. I go to the Sag Harbor Farmers Market almost every weekend. We are also on the bay—we love being on the water and taking our boat out. In the summer I love water sports—waterskiing, wakeboarding, kite boarding, you name it! In the winter I love to ski,” Miller shared.

The Hamptons offers a little of everything and Miller clearly appreciates all of it. In a recent “Food Fixations” column, Miller shared her plans for the July 4th weekend, which was of course filled with local festivities and food. Her recommendations for purchases at Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop in Sag Harbor make you want to pay a visit soon.

A design begins in the imagination and with success; it ends up on the runway. It all starts with a vision and a dream, the rest lies within the confines of one’s’ talent and commitment to make it happen.  When you have the talent and dedication that Miller does, there is no limit to the amount of success you can achieve.


To read more about Dan’s Taste of Two Forks visit www.tasteoftwoforks.com You can purchase your TOTF tickets at this site while they last. Event sponsors include: PRESENTING SPONSOR Farrell Building Company, Platinum Sponsors

Citarella, LINCOLN, TOWN, Amstel, Loire Valley Wines, Gold Sponsors: Hampton Jitney/Ambassador, Southampton Publick House, SMART Water, Dutch Petals, Silver Sponsors: Long Island Wine Council, Tito Vodka, Plum TV.