Nick Verreos and Red Carpet Mermaids

30 Mar

So I’m sure you remember Nick Verreos from the best show on television, Project Runway (starring the inimitable Tim Gunn, whose own mermaidly interview you can read here), back in its second season, the season after the one in which Austin Scarlett was robbed and the very same one that Santino was on and Chloe Dao won. Nick, of course, was the dapper and erudite designer who amongst other things won the Barbie competition by making her a fabulous pink mermaid gown and has returned since to comment on other seasons. He continues to teach at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and to design his fashion line NIKOLAKI and to write and appear on television commenting about red-carpet fashion, like on E! and TV Guide and Soapnet.  So he seemed a perfect person to talk to about mermaidly fashion.

But first, look at that stylin Barbie:

So are mermaids a new trend on the red carpet?
Yes!!! Well, in actuality, this is not a “new” trend; This silhouette has been hot for several seasons now – but it has just gained “red carpet” momentum as of late.

What do you think accounts for the popularity of the mermaid look?
I think that what accounts for the popularity of the Mermaid look and shape is how flattering it is for a lot of women’s shapes. If you are a no-hip girl, this shape ca give you hips by accentuating that area and especially when it becomes much fuller at the bottom.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you are a “fuller hip” gal, this can really you a “Va-Va-Boom” figure – a la Kim Kardashian. I also think since we have been going through season after season of great red carpet “Old Hollywood Glamour” looks, the Mermaid Shape and Style really harks back to those days of Rita Hayworth and Grace Kelly and those gorgeous 1950’s gowns when that silhouette was popularized.

NIKOLAKI gown from spring 2011

Do you have any favorite mermaid designs?
Mine of course!! Anything from my NIKOLAKI Collection that features a Mermaid shape is my favorite! I also loved all those late 40’s-early 50’s designs by the Fashion Designer Genius of Christian Dior and Cristobal Balenciaga. Also, for some reason, the Latino designers such as Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta can create excellent Mermaid-shaped designs. I don’t think it is by coincidence.

What about celebrities who favor this look; do any pull it off particularly well?
Well, let’s see, I definitely think someone like Kim Kardashian (I know, I may be using the term “celebrity” a bit loosely with her!), I think she can pull it off; her body shape is made for the Mermaid Shape. I also think of Eva Longoria. She has given a “Mermaid” look on the red carpet and done it very well. I can also think of the younger stars like “Glee’s” Lea Michelle–she wore an Oscar de la Renta “Mermaid” design and looked fabulous!

If you could make a mermaid dress for one star this year, who would it be?
I think it would be Penelope Cruz or Annette Benning. For Penelope, I would love to create a gown that payed homage to her Spanish roots yet not make her look like a Flamenco dancer at a dinner-and-show Madrid Theater! And for Ms. Benning, I would love to see her in a statement-making mermaid shaped gown that would highlight her status as Hollywood “royalty”.

Do you yourself have a penchant for mermaids – if so, how do you explain their appeal?
I think I do have a special penchant for mermaids. Their ultra feminine, sexy yet elegant and still powerful. These are all the qualities that I perceive my ideal NIKOLAKI woman to have.

The “Mermaid appeal” is the fact that they are sexy yet strong. These are qualities woman like to have (at least I think so) and men love – even gay men!

How can regular human ladies add mermaid allure to their looks?
A tight fitted pencil skirt with barely a center back hem slit – ending at the knee or slightly above it – add some 5″ pumps , a slow yet determined walk, and voila: You can be a Mermaid at the office!!! Regular human ladies can add “Mermaid Allure” by simple wearing tighter fitting clothing, walking slowly and having a covert sexuality about them.

What about mermen?
Ha! I sometimes consider myself the male version of a Mermaid when I am wearing very tight skinny pants/jeans and by YSL Johnny Boots and a fitted jacket. This ensemble gives me a confidence and slow-paced strut that yes, sometimes I feel like I have tail fins I could flap!

Do you have any other advice for aspiring mermaids?
Own your strength and sexuality and be confident of yourself. Don’t be afraid to bring out the Glamorous in you every now and then–and oh…learn how to swim!!!! And do it with Style!

Bonus: Here are some of mermaid gowns Nick admires…

from Balenciaga in a 1951 issue of Vogue

to two Dior gowns from 2004


and an Oscar de la Renta gown from 2008, worn on the red carpet by Penelope Cruz:

and a Carolina Herrera gown worn on the red carpet by January Jones

And here are some more of his own designs:

Ain’t they beauteous?

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3 Responses to “Nick Verreos and Red Carpet Mermaids”

  1. Margaret Dilloway March 30, 2011 at 11:05 AM #

    Beautiful! I wish novelists had to go to red carpet events in ball gowns.

  2. Jen March 30, 2011 at 11:06 AM #

    I really enjoy reading your blog, I am a huge mermaid fan, but something is bothering me: In nearly every post the same theme reappears: that mermaids are sexy and alluring. I personally feel like the concept of beauty is talked about quite often enough in just about every aspect of Western culture and I don’t think anyone’s going to say anything new or interesting any time soon. Frankly, I think it sells women (and mermaids) short. So much about mermaids (and women) is being sexy, coy, coquettish, bubbly…the mermaids in Peter Pan, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, even MeduSirena whom you interviewed previously seems to fall into that category. It promotes the expectation that mermaids are objects, just like regular women. That’s not what I get from mermaids at all. I think it’s a way of life that can be very healthy and aligned with ones own femininity and the environment around her. Women who perform as mermaids are expected to look a certain way because, after all, we don’t find women interesting if they don’t conform to certain beauty standards. Why can’t it just be about the mermaidness of it all, instead of the beauty?

  3. Jo March 31, 2011 at 1:27 PM #

    Um… I feel a bit odd following up that last comment with my own comment ….

    I think Nick Verreos is so cool and it was great to read your interview with him. I was crushed when he was eliminated during his season of Project Runway, and was so glad that he was tapped for commentary, etc — he is obviously very talented, and well-versed in fashion. I always think of Balenciaga when I think “mermaid dress” (that’s what I get for liking black and white fashion photography)…. :)

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