It began with a scarf in grade school. Sitting in class, Nicole Lebreux ignored her lesson while she played with the fabric and fashioned it into all sorts of clothing items. “I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t sew,” she recalls. Both of her grandmothers were seamstresses and she says she was always drawn to textiles, old prints and color. As an adult, her passion is deeply rooted in her craft, but she also speaks of a higher motive, sustainability, comfort and beauty.
Patterns and colors flood the room in her apartment/studio. Pieces of fabric lie everywhere and the racks of completed clothes are stunning, leaving promise for the snippets that remain. All of her pieces have a vintage, bohemian feel with a clean finish and a sensibility of the wearer’s body. Life, day-to-day movement and mobility inspire her, and though she says that her constant challenge is comfort and fit, it is clear that her only real challenge is to consistently improve upon work that is already appealing. Her mixing of patterns is bold, but her clothes are easy to wear. Playing with new and interesting ways to fit clothes with elastics and drawstrings, she maintains beautiful silhouettes and craftsmanship without ever using a zipper.
“I am in love with nature,” says Nicole, with genuine sentiment about her sustainable practices. Her philosophy is that happiness can be achieved in the fashion industry without resorting to mainstream manufacturing and cutthroat business practices. Spreading joy is how she defines her success and she knows that the best way she can contribute to the solution of waste is by being kind and not selfish, in every sense. All of her materials are reused either from old and vintage garments, or bits of cloth found at yard sales. Her best find was a box filled with 30 years worth of cut fabric from a local estate sale. She uses mill surplus, items that were a little wrong and were headed for a landfill, and when she talks about material like that just sitting in the trash her passion shines through. “I take the fabrics and give them a new life,” she declares. Her fear for the state of the world fuels her to maintain all green practices and she makes it clear that things can change – because they have to.
Nicole was born and raised in Tiverton, and though she has spent time living in New York and has traveled all over the world, she now lives and works in Bristol. “Nowhere in the world speaks to me like here,” she says. Her aim is to establish her name first locally and then across the country. She says her clientele is anyone young or young at heart, people who aren’t afraid of color or standing out. It is a fitting explanation for the designer herself; her big personality and ambitions for change are making quite an imprint on local fashion.