Heralded as the new darling of haute couture his designs adorn the stars of screen and stage around the world. But unlike his incredible creations Nicholas Oakwell prefers a much quieter life away from the cameras. We share a tête-à-tête and learn more about his places of escape and what keeps a man with a love of understated elegance elegant.
My secret gem of a place to stay is Barnsley House. I’m a country boy at heart and so it’s beautifully secluded location within the Cotswolds is perfect. The food range and wine lists are well chosen and the staff offers just the right level of service.
I never travel without anything I miss things when I am away and like my belongings with me. I also don’t know what I will want to wear until I’m actually at my destination so I take it all! The first thing I do when I arrive at my hotel is un-pack everything before I do anything else.
The monsieur I’d most like to travel with will always be my husband, but if I were to have a dinner party then I’d like to invite Stephen Fry as I find him very intellectually stimulating.
A place that hasn’t lived up to expectation is Paris. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many places around the world and stay in a variety of hotels and I just find that Paris falls short in terms of service and style. There’s something missing.
When in London the places I rely on are the quiet and discrete bars at the Connaught Hotel as they are great for meetings or grabbing a snack at anytime of the day. 34’s also fantastic for lunch and dinner, the food and atmosphere is not pretentious and the service is superb. Each season I present my collection at Claridges and as a treat I always stay there for a night. I love ordering a burger, chips and glass of champagne on room service; it feels so decadent.
I go to Bottega Veneta and Prada for shoes and my glasses are Oliver Peoples or Cutler and Gross. The session stylist John Paul Scott keeps my hair in check and I wear Roja Dove’s Vetiver as my fragrance. For daily use and UK travel I carry bags from Bottega Veneta but stick to department store luggage when heading abroad as it always gets wrecked in the plane’s hold.
At the moment I’m listening to Andy Stott although I have an eclectic music taste, it depends on my mood. I love driving to classical music with Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky being some of my favourite composers.
I design anywhere as long as long as I have pen, paper, quietness and I’m in the mood. Inspiration can come from anywhere and it’s about being totally aware of my surroundings.
A collection starts with research and many, many pictures which will constantly change until I’m settled on a direction and theme. From there I then sketch out the designs. If I have creative block then I play with my miniature schnauzers.
My muse is no one woman, but I think Anne Hathaway is beautiful, Nicole Kidman is striking, and Julianne Moore is stunning. A style hero would be Iris Apfel and Yves Saint Laurent was a genius.
What excites me about couture is the art of making something that feels beautiful. It’s not just about creating something that looks amazing; it needs to feel beautiful on the inside as well. As a successful couturier you can’t be self-indulgent, you must understand your customers and their lifestyles, you need to design with them always in mind.
Nicholas Oakwell’s AW13 collection will be launched on 27th June 2013.