All Posts in Behind the Seams

December 14, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Mariposa Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Mariposa Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection takes us through an amazing story of elegant contemporary, feminine silhouettes conveyed by dresses inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing.

After presenting the Elena, we move to another breathtaking model, the Mariposa dress from the sweet Candy collection. Its flowy skirt and shiny jewel tones will sweep you off your feet.


Photographs by Ned & Aya

The perfect cocktail dress

First made by the designer for herself to wear to a gala event, the Mariposa dress features a pretty draped bodice, a flirty flared skirt and a tropical beaded and embroidered waistband that make a perfect festive dress and a great alternative to the little black dress.

Nicole Lenzen attended a theater opening followed by a cocktail evening organized by a director from the swing dance scene. Clover green silk charmeuse leftover from an unconventional wedding dress made by Lenzen and the colorful intensity of the tropics inspired the sumptuous Mariposa dress. Catching the light and dance movements in a perfect fashion, the dress drew attention so successfully that the dress eventually became one of the key designs in the new Candy collection. Read more

December 4, 2013 - Comments Off on The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Elena Dress

The Story Behind Nicole Lenzen’s Designs: the Elena Dress

by Lisa Viet

The recently launched Nicole Lenzen New York collection tells an amazing story of elegant, contemporary, feminine silhouettes inspired by vintage fashion and swing dancing. Nicole Lenzen’s designs flatter the female body whilst providing comfort and modern style. Each dress features unique details, which we will share with you in the coming weeks based on the designer’s creative input.

We start with the Elena dress. Inspired by a real-life vintage dress transported and transformed into a twenty-first century fashion silhouette, it truly represents the reconstruction of an era.


Photographs by Ned & Aya

The true story of a vintage dress

Well-known dancer Evita Arce who specializes in the Lindy Hop style and is famous for her high-flying aerials and dynamic movement reached out to Nicole Lenzen to design costumes for her dance company’s performances in New York City and abroad. Lenzen was strongly inspired by vintage dresses that Evita wore at shows and competitions, many originally worn by NYC swing dance icon Elena Iannucci, co-owner of Dance Manhattan. “Elena had a beautiful collection of vintage dresses and accessories that she handed over to Evita when she retired from dancing professionally” said Nicole Lenzen. But unfortunately the dresses were not tailored for dancing. “One of Evita’s favorite dresses – a 1940’s navy floral print which had been torn and patched up on multiple occasions – did not survive a New Year’s crowd-surfing performance!” she added with a laugh. So although the vintage dress was no longer functional, it provided great inspiration for the Elena dress. Read more

October 29, 2013 - Comments Off on Treat Yourself to Our New Collection, Now Available Online

Treat Yourself to Our New Collection, Now Available Online

We are excited to launch our new collection of ready-to-wear dresses, tailored for movement and carefully constructed in NYC.

One part sugar and two parts spice, this collection of dresses is poised to twirl its way into your heart. Taking their cue from the sweetness of candy, these vintage-inspired looks pair feminine silhouettes with a modern sensibility that is as versatile as it is festive. Designed and tailored for movement, the collection is ethically produced in New York City from fair-trade and performance silks.

Some of the talented folks with whom I have been lucky enough to collaborate are dancer extraordinaire Evita Arce and photo geniuses Ned & Aya. We loved shooting on location (and filling up on decadent sweets!) at the idyllic Brooklyn Farmacy.

All styles are available in our new online shop for those in the mood to treat themselves (or be treated) this holiday season. Feel free to spread the word, and if you're in New York City, schedule an appointment to stop by and view the collection.

Special thanks also to the visionary Glen Jackson Taylor for web design and art direction + my brilliant web developers Matthew and Dan.

September 11, 2012 - Comments Off on Laurel – Reconstructed Vintage for the Jazz Age Lawn Party

Laurel – Reconstructed Vintage for the Jazz Age Lawn Party

For the Jazz Age Lawn Party in August, Laurel found an adorable summery dress on eBay. However, when she received the piece, it was in a sorry state of wear & tear. She brought the piece to me, and while I deemed the bodice a patchwork of repairs, the skirt (delicately smocked at the waistband and cleanly bound at each skirt tier) was in great condition. I proposed disassembling the bodice to remove and reuse all the cute blue & white gingham cotton trim, and creating a new bodice in silk organza to match the skirt. In this manner we were able to salvage the best parts of the original, and make a new dress constructed to endure endless dances.

The talented photographer and fellow dancer Lynn Redmile captured Laurel in her dress at the Lawn Party (above & below).

Below, I outline the process of reconstructing this vintage dress, starting with disassembly of the original dress and cleaning the usable parts to bring back the white and blue pop of the gingham print. The trim and the skirt were re-used in the recreation.

Read more

September 11, 2012 - Comments Off on Lyana – Restored & Altered Vintage Dress for the Lawn Party

Lyana – Restored & Altered Vintage Dress for the Lawn Party

For her first time attending the Jazz Age Lawn Party at Governor's Island, Lyana wanted a special dress for the occasion. Her friend Laurel had found her a vintage chiffon dress with a precious dance-and-flower-themed print, but which needed some work to be wearable, and a little extra care for a more contemporary feel.

When I received the original, several parts were disintegrating, most significantly the shoulder area. While the sleeves were also shredded in some spots, there was enough salvageable fabric in the sleeves to cut a new shoulder yoke to replace the disintegrated areas on the bodice. Read more

March 5, 2012 - Comments Off on New Website Launch

New Website Launch

I am thrilled to launch a brand new website for my custom bridal & evening wear company! The new site explains the custom couture process, illustrated through photo galleries and client case studies. We also highlight our unique process of reclaiming a bride's mother's or grandmother's wedding dress.

Check out the about section for more information on the company, service offerings, and designer Nicole Lenzen; read testimonials from our lovely brides, and behind-the-scenes coverage on our blog.

Many thanks to Glen Jackson Taylor of Default Projects, with whom I partnered on the stunning new branding and website design for Nicole Lenzen.

January 15, 2012 - Comments Off on Brit – Reclaimed Wedding Gown

Brit – Reclaimed Wedding Gown

Brit, a sustainable-minded person and regular vintage shopper, brought me not one, but three vintage dresses from which to create her custom wedding gown. They are pictured below from left to right:

1) Her grandmother's wedding dress (circa 1950s) - a beautifully constructed satin, lace, and tulle dress, which her grandmother recalls in retrospect as being very out of character in terms of her style!
2) A vintage (circa 1940s) lace dress discovered at Brimfield, the amazing antique fair Brit has been frequenting with her family since she was young.
3) Her mother's wedding dress (circa 1990) - a very Stevie Nicks-esque satin and lace creation replete with winged sleeves and flowing skirt.

My biggest challenge in combining these dresses was integrating them into  a cohesive look that maintained a high level of taste and sophistication, instead of reading as a hodgepodge. Here is the lovely bride in the final dress, which we both ended up being thrilled with. I describe the process from A-to-Z below.

Read more

November 5, 2011 - Comments Off on My Great-Grandmother’s Buttons

My Great-Grandmother’s Buttons

This past fall, my mom and I combined a visit to Brimfield, MA with time in Manchester, NH to visit family. My great-aunt brought out tins of buttons that my great-grandmother had collected from the floor of the mill where she worked, at the end of the shift. She was a seamstress trained in her native Greece, with impeccable hand-sewing abilities. Mom and I pored over the buttons of all shapes, sizes, and finishes, and sorted them according to our taste. Mom has been making beautiful bracelets with her selection, and I'm planning on using some of the ones I chose in my upcoming collection.

November 3, 2011 - Comments Off on YiaYia


My great-grandmother, Soultana (whose name was changed to Sally when she arrived in the States) immigrated from the village Eptahori in Northern Greece. We always called her YiaYia (Greek for grandmother). In looking through old photographs recently we discovered this gem, which we believe to be a small sewing school she attended in Greece. She is pictured at the far right, and below. She was an amazing lady with spectacular sewing and cooking abilities. In my family we continue to carry on her recipes and sewing techniques. We plan to visit Eptahori this coming summer during their annual festival, and I greatly look forward to experiencing her homeland.


January 8, 2010 - Comments Off on Press: Nicole Lenzen – Business Cards & Identity

Press: Nicole Lenzen – Business Cards & Identity

Changing the name of my bridal & eveningwear company from Tigresse, to using the eponymous naming convention favored by most fashion designers, meant creating a new brand identity. The first order were the Nicole Lenzen business cards, a fresh new design created by Glen Jackson Taylor of Default Projects, with the graphic consisting of elements from my personal couturiere’s toolbox.

We selected Pinball Publishing, an eco-conscious printer based out of Portland, Oregon that uses renewable energy to print cards on 100% recycled card stock with vegetable-based inks. Pinball photographed and posted the design on their flickr page (I guess the fact that I maintained a mobile SF number had them confused as to my base, which is indeed NYC).

I could not be happier with my new logo and identity and how they will be incorporated further into the new branding.