Versatility is the Key to This Fashion Label
When Nicole Frank had a real-estate business, she found her days were long and her wardrobe options were short.
She would drop her daughter off at school in the morning, walk the dogs, go to work, attend business meetings, pick her daughter up after school, do more work and then go to a business dinner at night. “I didn’t have time to go home to change,” she said. “I found myself wearing Lululemon clothes. I would throw on a blazer and heels to create my own outfit.”
Frank, who grew up in San Diego and lives in nearby Rancho Santa Fe, knew there was a need for a new kind of fashion collection that let women transition from morning to night with just a few tweaks. “It is really difficult to find both versatility and feel great in your clothes,” said the businesswoman, who spent 15 years in real estate and renovating houses before she launched the Nicole Frank label in November. “The only reason I thought of trying this is that I knew there were so many women who think the way I do.”
The thing that distinguishes Frank’s label are the zip-on collars, sleeves and hems that can transform a short-sleeve black top or dress into a more fashionable piece that can go from a day in the office to an evening out on the town.
Frank wanted her pieces to be washable, comfortable and stain-resistant as well as have moisture-wicking capabilities. When her teenaged daughter, Alexis, an equestrian, switched from a wool riding jacket that had to be dry cleaned to a performance-fabric riding jacket that was washable, she knew she wanted to incorporate that kind of fabric into her clothing.
With lots of research, she found a Swiss textile company that made a high-performance nylon/elastane fabric that fit her formula.
Even though Frank has never been a designer, she relied on a fashion sense she learned from her grandmother, aunts and mother, who were models and actresses who would shop in Europe to be at the fashion forefront.
Frank, who also collects vintage clothes, put together some concepts and silhouettes that draw inspiration from the 1960s with styles that are more tailored. There are basic tops, blazers, jumpsuits, dresses, pencil skirts and pants. Colors are primarily black and taupe.
Then she went about creating zip-on sleeves, collars and hems that can be mixed and matched with each style. A short-sleeve blazer with a hidden zipper around the edge can become a long-sleeve blazer with tweed, leather, chiffon and lace, striped or solid-color sleeves. The sleeves can also be used with a jumpsuit, a top or a dress.
Zip-on collars for jackets and jumpsuits are made of leather, shearling, vintage fur, tweed or plaid fabric. And for dresses, there are interchangeable lace, plaid, fur, tweed, shearling or leather hems for a solid-color dress.
For shoes, Frank has created interchangeable rhinestone and ribbon straps that can dress up a plain shoe or boot into something ready for a gala.
“You can take three outfits, six sleeves and collars and have a week and a half of clothing when you are traveling,” the newly minted apparel designer said.
To make her clothes, Frank decided to keep it local, finding a Los Angeles factory with a low minimum of 20 pieces. “Manufacturing overseas is very unpredictable. And if it is done incorrectly, it takes time to correct,” she said. “I like being on top of the quality control and being only two hours away. I also like supporting the United States.”
Sales of her pieces, whose prices range from $150 to $495 for clothing and $50 to $125 for zip-ons, currently are sold on her e-commerce site at www.nicolefranktwe.com. She also does trunk shows at various venues.
For philanthropist and businesswoman Helen Nordan, the clothes are great for traveling, whether it is for work or pleasure. “I think it is perfect for the woman on the run and for women looking for apparel and pieces that they can interchange with one piece and get different looks,” said the Rancho Santa Fe resident. “I was in the French Alps skiing and took some of the pieces with me. It was wonderful to change from casual to upscale at night by changing sleeves to get a different look. And travel wise, it doesn’t wrinkle.”
Another fan of the clothing is Gail Evertz, a New York resident who is the vice president of business development for Guggenheim Partners. She loves the stretch and washable nature of the fabric and the silhouettes, which compliment a woman’s figure. “I travel a lot, and I need to travel with a carry-on. This absolutely does it for me with the myriad of sleeve changes,” Evertz said. “I would live in her clothes if I could.”