29-year-old Nikki Dhillon, a Malaysian fashion designer continues to turn heads with her unique brand of fashion and independent clothing label Nikki D Couture, featuring Indo-Western designs.
Despite making a name for herself as a model and international make-up artist, designing clothes was always something Nikki had dreamed of doing.
The butterfly effect of a wise choice
What may come as a surprise to many is the fact that she initially embarked on quite a different career path- “I did architecture when I was younger but I realised that wasn’t the path for me. So I went to Australia, to take up a degree in fashion and learnt make-up. I worked as a fashion stylist and a make-up artist there,” says Nikki in an interview with Good News Malaysia.
She returned after seven years living abroad before she left to Milan for a year to deepen her knowledge in fashion. “I worked for a local fashion company in Milan, learning the basics because I have never ventured into European fashion so it was something new for me. I got to work backstage at the Milan Fashion Week 2015, styling models. Then I went to Abu Dhabi for some work, too. Since then I have been travelling back and forth to the UK and Malaysia.”
Coming from a society with strict teachings and certain expectations to fulfill, stepping into the world of fashion was anything but easy in Nikki’s case. To that extent, she is beyond grateful to her parents for supporting her decisions.
“I had always loved drawing. My mum thought it would be great for me to take up architecture since I was good at drawing. However when I actually started to learn about the subject and that it required more than just drawing skills- I had to learn about rationing and more; that was when I realised architecture is not the degree for me,” Nikki says with a laugh.
She is quick to point out the general perception of society that pays high regard to conventional careers such as a doctor, lawyer or an engineer and “tends to frown upon those who venture into, for example, the entertainment industry”. Nikki is a firm believer that “we do need a little bit of everything” and those who choose to pursue creative or non-traditional career paths should not be looked down upon.
Nikki admits that switching from architecture to fashion was the wisest choice she ever made which led her to be the successful person she is today. Not to mention, she is the happiest she has ever been!
Merging the best of east and west in her debut clothing line
Nikki always had a vision of creating her own clothing line but felt that she was not ready to do so. After years of putting her dream aside, she finally mustered up the courage to make it a reality. As a proud Punjabi, she decided to stay true to her roots by designing clothes that would be of cultural value with a Western flair to take it up a notch, hence the Indo-Western style.
She added, “It is not your typical saree and Punjabi suit. I have pants, jumpsuits, crop tops. The idea here is that the clothing is not just confined to the Indian community. I picture my clothing as something that everyone can wear, regardless of their background.” This way, Nikki is confident that everyone can appreciate the beauty of both cultures through her unique designs.
Nikki also places great emphasis on comfort in her clothing – “A lot of people outside the Indian community have started to pay attention to clothing such as sarees and lenghas. Personally, I feel very happy when I see people taking an interest in Indian culture. Of course, there are a lot of cultural or even religious elements in the traditional clothing and other people might not feel comfortable wearing the clothes or overstep any boundaries but this is where my designs come in- I want anyone wearing it to be able to feel comfortable.”
To come up with her clothing line, Nikki decided it was either go big or go home. Her garments are more suitable for grant events- hence the ‘Couture’ element, but Nikki does not rule out the idea of coming up with casual and ready-to-wear collections in the future. With her extravagant designs, Nikki ultimately wishes that she will be able to showcase them on a fashion runway in the future.
Her clothing line is largely known for its one-of-a-kind pieces. She goes to great lengths to ensure every inch of her garments are different so that everyone can have a customised experience to suit their preference.
Striving to be a trend maker
No doubt, Nikki takes her work seriously. Ahead of the launch of her clothing line, she is striving for perfection in every aspect – “I am perfecting everything- from the social media launch to every inch of my designs. I want people to see the best of me and I might just exceed some expectations.”
In fact, Nikki isn’t slowing down anytime soon. After the launch of her clothing line, she plans to come up with at least two to three collections a year or more. “I also want to try to hit the Fashion Week. If I ever have the opportunity for such a platform, I will absolutely want to do it. I want to put my brand out there, perhaps I can even get the chance to design for artists,” she says with much enthusiasm.
Nikki hopes that people from all over the world will be able to relate to her designs – “We live in a time and generation where different cultures are starting to gain the spotlight. Back then, when it came to fashion, we tend to follow a set of trends that were set by the West, so we tend to have very Eurocentric standards. Now, people are starting to embrace their roots and everyone is slowly opening their eyes to the diversity around us.”
In fact, a few people who had a sneak peek of her debut clothing line can vouch for her unique designs and ideas. “When my mother saw my designs she went ‘wow!’ and that is when I know I’ve achieved something.” If that’s anything to go by, it is only an indication of greater things in store for Nikki.
We certainly cannot wait to see more of Nikki Dhillon and wish her the best for the launch of her clothing line!
*Edited by Archana Patrick
*Featured image sourced from Nikki Dhillon