All On The Line S2E6: Nicole Miller

Posted on January 02, 2012

Meet Nicole Miller. Chances are you’ve already met her. We did an impromptu poll and pretty much everyone we asked said they wore a Nicole Miller garment at some point. You wouldn’t think she’d need the services of Joe Zee since she can’t be called a “struggling” designer, but there are struggles and there are struggles.

In Nicole’s case, it’s not the struggle to launch a successful business; it’s the struggle to remain fresh after decades in the business.

Doctor Joe took a look at what she’s been doing and made his usual whip-smart critique.

In the end, what’s she’s doing on a clothing front isn’t necessarily bad, but Joe realized that her biggest problem was one of branding and image.

The very first time we met Joe we were impressed with just how in tune he is with the ways in which the fashion world is changing due to forces outside the mainstream of, say, big name designers and fashion magazine editors. In short: he gets the whole fashion blogging thing in a way that, it seems to us, a great deal of his mainstream colleagues do not. Even better, he not only gets it as it exists; he has a very good understanding of where it’s going to go and how it can be an even more important force in fashion than it already is. He’s excited about fashion blogging even more than most fashion bloggers we know. Nicole and (especially) her CEO didn’t seem particularly sold on Joe’s ideas about “massaging the bloggers,” but to their credit, they were willing to listen.

Especially once Joe showed them just how little young women regard Nicole Miller as a shopping destination or a brand she needs to own. Was this most scientific data-gathering method in the world? No, it’s reality TV. But even with its staginess, we think there was a kernel of truth to what Joe was saying.

We were extraordinarily skeptical when he revealed his solution of having Nicole look backwards to time when her clothes were considered a pretty hot thing. You can’t really recapture the past and it seems to us that if decades gone by are going to be reinterpreted, it should be by people who weren’t interpreting that decade the first time around. Leave the ’80s to the young, we say.

But we thought it was interesting that Nicole was buying up her old pieces on eBay for inspiration and were curious to see what such an experienced and reliable designer can do when she tries to recapture a bit of the old glory in a new way. There was a bit too much of “OHMIGOD HOW ARE YOU EVER GOING TO GET THIS ALL DONE ON TIME?” when it was pretty obvious to us that a pro like Nicole wasn’t going to be sending unfinished rags down a runway. In fact, this episode was pretty refreshing in that it was practically drama-free in comparison to some of the others this season.

You can read our review of the collection here, but suffice it to say, we weren’t just pleasantly surprised, we were shocked. It’s not an easy thing to make the wild prints and colors of the ’80s look fresh and modern, but we think she really managed it.

Well. In most cases, at least. Although we think that jacket has real possibilities. We can’t honestly say those pants are going to look good on , well, anyone.

A fresh way of updating the quintessential ’80s checkerboard print. We liked a lot of the accessories here, but we didn’t always think things were styled as well as we’d have liked. The shoes and bag detract.

We thought this was pretty damn fabulous.

Not in love with the shorts, but the jacket and tank are both great.

We like the silhouette quite a bit here. There were times when we thought she got too literal with the ’80s stuff, but this is one of those looks that felt modern to us, even though the influences were obvious.

Once again, Doctor Joe did a fantastic job and we’re kind of sad the season’s over already. There’s a lot of crappy fashion TV out there, but we appreciate this show for its smart focus and relative lack of histrionics. Having such a big name designer submit herself to Joe’s critiques was a fantastic way to close out the season.
















Oh, fine.

Let’s talk about these two assholes.

Television is something we have both been firm about avoiding up until now. History tells us that successful bloggers don’t necessarily make successful TV personalities and we’ve been quite happy to sit on the sidelines, away from the spotlight, and offer our bitchy commentary.

Which isn’t to say there are piles of television offers sitting around unread around here, just that the topic has come up once or twice in the past and we’ve never really had a problem saying “Thank you, but no.”

But Joe is an honest-to-god friend to the blog and if there was one show that could get us to say “Yes,” it would be this one. Besides, in all honesty, we thought our screentime would amount to no more than 5 to 10 seconds.

We were COMPLETELY caught off guard as to how much the cameras followed us around – way more than you saw on the show – and admitted to each other after it was all over that the only thing running through our minds the entire time was every single bitchy criticism we ever made about assholes on reality television.

We watched the episode through our splayed fingers and told very few people ahead of time about it, but in the end, we were pretty okay with how we came across. A couple lessons have been learned should the opportunity arise again, but at least we didn’t come off like idiots (we think) or without personalities (we hope).

And more than anything else, it was a really wonderful validation for the blog and all the work we’ve done. Without tooting our horns too much (WAY too late for that), it was a great way to end the year for us, despite how much it worked our nerves.

In fact, better than anything was watching Joe read our review of her collection to a designer and her whole team. That meant the world to us.


[Screencaps: – Photo Credit:]

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