Thursday, 22 June 2017

#badgirlcrush - Katie-Louise Nicol-Ford

#badgirlcrush - Katie-Louise Nicol-Ford

Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?​ Ie. name, what you do, where you live (or ASL in MSN mode, lol!

29/F/Sydney @katielouiseford 

I’m Katie-Louise, I live in Sydney Australia. Like most creatives in my generation I have many job titles.. but I am predominantly a seamstress, working in both fashion and costume. I also run a small business with my husband selling vintage clothing and our own handmade clothing line.

Can you tell us about what life was like growing up for you? How did you discover your style, passions and persuasions?

I grew up in a small beachside town, which never suited me much, and found myself ditching the bikini from an early age. 
I was lucky enough to be raised by an incredibly creative mother who always nurtured the eccentricities in my brother and myself.

I’ve been obsessed with clothing since I was a child and my mother never batted an eyelid when I’d insist on donning a full face of makeup and tutu for church, or when I turned full goth as a teenager and had more metal in my face than the local fisherman’s tackle box. This freedom of expression allowed me to discover so much about myself from such a young age, for which I will always be grateful.

You are ​an extremely​ talented​ ​designer with a strong and unique vision. ​​How did you get ​started in th​e fashion​ industry​?​ Can you outline any challenges you have faced along your journey and how you overcame them?

Thank you so much! I started a clothing label on a whim in my early 20s whilst studying fashion in Melbourne. I was dirt poor, so started making 1950s style dresses out of fabric from op shops and selling them at markets. I had a great response, so opened up an Etsy shop and things really took off.

I have since started a label with my husband, which comprises both handmade and vintage clothing. We strive to find balance in the cost of ethical handmade production in a world which choses “fast fashion”. We make all of our garments in-house, from start to finish, and while we have received a great response and support, we still receive criticism of price points considering that we barely break even. Unfortunately I don’t think our generation is educated in the true cost of quality materials and labour. However it is not all doom and gloom, and as we are so passionate about both our creativity and hand finished clothing we keep striving, both working full time jobs in order to fund our creative baby.

Where do you find yourself most inspired ​- ​or gain inspiration from?​ ​

My brain is such a bizarre rolodex, full of the most abstract references and inspirations, so I find myself constantly jumping between multiple points of inspiration. I also draw a lot of fresh influence from old films, costume exhibitions and beautiful coffee table books full of art and fashion, of which we have a lot! I have found in my study and career that barriers are built up between the worlds of fashion and costume. Thanks to my eclectic taste, I like to break down these walls when it comes to my own style, often taking costumes from all eras as a point of fashion reference. One of my favourite examples would be the French follies costumes of the 1920s. Mash this with Liza’s crazy makeup in the 1972 Cabaret and you have John Galliano 2006 dream!

​Is there a particular era of time (or times) whose values and/or aesthetics you identify with the most?

For me I have been enamoured by 1930s Hollywood since I was a teenager. The Hollywood (often ridiculous) images of opulence, excessiveness and luxury have always struck a cord. After my first trip to France last year, I have also become obsessed with 18th century dress and culture, particularly in France and England. The exaggerated silhouettes, sumptuous fabrics, pompous wigs and excessively ‘feminine’ clothing was so incredibly extreme and exaggerated, I just can’t get enough! I’m an avid history fan and I think that the social climate during each of these time periods provides fascinating context to their aesthetic. The opulence of 1930s Hollywood was pure escapism for a nation suffering through the Great Depression. Similarly, the lives of 18th century nobility was in stark contrast to the masses struggling on the lower rungs of society. Yet the projected imagery from the wealthy exuded such triumph and success that this is often what we remind from these time periods. While my husband and I live a comfortable life, we always joke that we dress far above our means, fake it till you make it!

As a Sydney-sider, are there any places which are a ​'​must see​'​ ​for​ any international ​Bad Girls planning a trip​ to Australia​?

Sydney is undoubtedly a beautiful city to behold! Catching a ferry through the harbour, going for a spin at Luna Park or having a cheeky champas at the Opera House are still things I get giddy about.  As I grew up nine hours drive from Sydney I still often feel like a tourist myself, and I am constantly making new discoveries. I would recommend to any new travellers to meet locals – since lockout laws have been introduced a lot of good venues have shut down, however the underground culture is growing and I’m always happy to show travellers how to have a great time in such a conservative city.

What are your favourite movies, what do you like about them and why do you think are you drawn to them?​

My all time favourite film is Follow the Fleet with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I first saw it as a midday movie at 14 and it was my gateway into the glamour of the 1930s and my other passion, musicals. I love the escapism of films like this, how for a few hours you are transported into a world of pure imagination.

Beauty secrets time: are there any particular products you regularly use in your makeup/hair routine that ​you recommend to bad girls?

I often get asked to do tutorials for my hair sets, but its really just years of trial and error and figuring out how to transform it into something else when an overnight set falls short of fabulous (instead of crying and throwing foam rollers round the room.. ahem) For fellow bleached gals, I can’t recommend Olaplex treatments enough, it has taken my hair from straw to silk. Also invest in a professional colourist…  I’ve learnt that the hard way.

For my face - I’m obsessed with this dirt cheap brand at Chemist Warehouse W7 that do a great white sparkly baked eyeshadow. I also love Besame cheek tints and lipstick - Cherry Red is my everyday poison, and sparkly, bright eye dust in every colour from The Makeup Wardrobe in Newtown, Sydney.

Who are some of your favourite musicians? What is your favourite era of music?

I am a diehard Morrissey fan, so I seriously listen to the Smiths everyday. I still remember flicking through Rolling Stone at a friends house when I was 15 and seeing an article on the Libertines. It read -  “If you’re into The Cure and The Smiths, than you’ll love the Libertines”. I’d already loved the Cure since I heard Boys Don’t Cry in the Wedding Singer as a kid, but who were this other mysterious band? As soon as I got home I downloaded ‘This Charming Man’ on Napster (haha) and that was it.
I also have never shaken my teenage days in musical theatre so am always listening to so many musicals. I can often be found howling along at my sewing machine to Gypsy, Cabaret, Wicked, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Annie and of course Les Miserables.

If you could pick one, who would your Ultimate Bad Girl be and why?

Ugh so many. Celebrity wise, I’d have to say Bette Davis. In an industry that was based on looks and often involved off screen favours, she managed to succeed based on intellect and talent. I have so much respect for that. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by so many incredibly talented and passionate women who laugh in the face of society’s expectations of them and are absolutely thriving as a result. That to me is bad in the best kind of way.

From top to bottom, Katie- Louise wears The Original bad Girl ' Bella' One shoulder ruffle crop top, The 40s style 'Diamond' twist top and The ' Gwen ' Wrap Top, available here

What do you love about The Original Bad Girl?

I love the versatility of the designs! They can so easily be worn in a super contemporary or fierce vintage fashion. For me most importantly as a seamstress, I love seeing good quality manufacturing, and The Original Bad Girl is flawless!

What does being 'bad' mean to to you?

For me, ‘bad’ is figuring out who and what you are and sticking to your guns, even when people judge you for it. Allowing yourself to be ruled by your own passions. I know it sounds so naff but live life your own way bad gals, because to quote my dear friend Liza Minnelli:

Start by admitting,
From cradle to tomb,
It isn’t that long a stay.

If you want to pop a bottle of champas and go out dancing on a Tuesday, or take a mental health day and curl up in bed eating pad thai and watching Call the Midwife reruns, then do it! Being bad is doing things for yourself, simply because they make you happy.

What are your goals for 2017?

After getting married in March, life is finally calming down and I’m starting to feel in control of my time again. After an unintentional hiatus, my husband and I will finally be releasing a new collection for our clothing label in the next few months! We’ve had a few bumps in the road, so this is a long time coming, we are both very excited. We have recently moved into a new apartment, so hope to transform it from drab to fab by the end of the year! As I mentioned before, Sydney is going through a weird time at the moment, so to create a unique haven for ourselves and fellow weirdos would make us very proud.

Follow Katie- Louise on instagram here


  1. This is a really wonderul post dear. The dresses are really remarkable and i just love the designs. All the pictures look amazing too. Job well done.

  2. Amazinh! I can really feeling the 1930s style.I Love the Old Hollywoods's glamour too, is my great inspiration for fashion and retro lifestyle.

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