She's WildasaMink, but sweet as Sodapop!

This week's Dusty Rose: Nickie Schaad.

Nickie is an eveningwear designer for Alberto Makali, and she's a fantastic blogger too. We spoke to her about textile factories, Rocky Top, and being the tallest gal in a subway car.

How did you get into the fashion business?

When I was ten years old I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer and live in New York City. I was obsessed with a toy called Fashion Plates (remember that?!?), read fashion magazines front to back, watched MTV's House of Style religiously - but whenever I went to the mall, I could never find the kind of outfits I had in my head. So I had to make them. I studied fashion design at Kent State in Ohio. I'm from Evansville, IN, and Roy Halston is also from there (well, he moved there when he was 4), so I always had that example. I always thought: "if Roy Halston can come out of Evansville and define American sportswear - maybe I can make it too".

After college, I was sending out resumes, and my friend told me about a position at Alberto Makali. I rushed down to Kinkos and sent out my portfolio, and before I knew it, I was hired over the phone and on my way to New York. It was incredible. (This is a picture of Nickie in an Alberto Makali jacket we found before we knew where she worked. Awesome coincidence!)

Was it hard to make the transition to evening wear?

About one year into my time at Alberto Makali, I started to learn more about the factories that supply our evening wear materials. There were hiccups - whenever I communicate with places overseas, they all still seem to think I'm a man. Email correspondences start with "Dear Mister Nicole". But it was a great change. Now when I go into a store, knowing where the fabric comes from, how much it costs, etc makes me more conscious about buying clothes myself when in the back of my head I remember seeing that exact same fabric and how much it cost when we were in fabric appointments/meetings.

Was was your favorite piece from the shoot?

When I first looked at the clothes, I thought that the warm and cozy ivory sweater dress would be my absolute favorite.

But now, I have to say the Meat Loaf t-shirt. I could incorporate that into what I wear every day. But I would never go out wearing it as a t-shirt dress! Every time I raised my hand above my shoulder I'd be holding it down.

The was great too. It was bright, fit me perfectly - I would wear it with more muted shoes and accessories and make that dress the centerpiece.

Tell us about your blog.

My blog is called "Wild As A Mink But Sweet As Sodapop". It's a line out of Rocky Top - an old honky tonk tune I grew up dancing to at weddings. If you've ever been to a small town wedding, I'll bet you've danced to Rocky Top. I started it in April, because I was interested in street style - what people wear every day. Plus, it's a good place to write down all my stories. The response has been pretty great. The weekend recaps are the most popular - I call it the Weekend Rewind.

How would you describe your personal style?

My style is - comfortable, weather-appropriate... with impractical shoes. I incorporate heels with everything. I think I only own one pair of flats, and they make me feel stumpy and short. I have a secret obsession with being taller than everyone on the subway. I get upset when the train stops at Broadway-Lafayette and any model gets on. Then I have to sit down.

Thanks for talking with us, Nickie!
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