Written By: Raegan Cleary
Nubia Williams may have graduated from the Parsons the New School for Design with a BFA in Fashion Design, but her career began long before college.
A young Williams was a visual artist at the age of five, making collages of women dressed in fabric scraps that lead to her first commissioned sale. Williams has also been collaborating with other artist and designers since she was eight years old. Although she is skilled in the performing arts, Williams prefers to be creative behind the scenes and put others in the limelight. With a large range or artistic experience, Williams now looks to art for fashion design inspiration.
“Studying fine art has you looking at many techniques, cultures, histories, pattern, colors, mediums, etc.,” said Williams of her time at Parsons. “I use my knowledge/findings to develop concepts and explore the possibilities within apparel design.” Williams wants to tell a story through her designs, instead of just making commercially desirable clothing. “Most of the time, I even create a mixed-medium piece of artwork that depicts the concept for my next collection.”
One example of this is Williams’ Fall/Holiday 2016 collection, which is a tribute to photographer Irving Penn. When Williams was invited to the Lesley University College of Art and Design “Black and White Gala” as a featured designer, the gala was the opening for the Smithsonian’s traveling exhibit, “Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty.” Williams’ aesthetic is usually bold and colorful, so she was excited to work with only black and white, putting more focus on shape.“I designed a capsule collection titled “Silver” in tribute of Irving Penn and his iconic silver sculptural fashion photography. Asymmetry, sculpture, and romance were the elements I wanted to portray while metallic silks and transparent fabrics were the medium.”
Along with designing her own collection, Williams also works as a designer for brands like Converse and Puma. Designing for the corporate world means designing for consumer demand which can vary from country to country. According to Williams, “corporate design requires more problem solving and continuous adaptation to change,” whereas her own collection gives her the creative freedom to do whatever she pleases. Williams enjoys having the balance of both in her life.
Currently, Williams is focusing on custom designs. However she’s planning on having her ready-to-wear line, Nubia, selling in large luxury retailers and has goals of open flagship stores across the country. In the next 5 years she sees herself showing at New York Fashion Week, selling collections with luxury retailers, continuing with custom designs for artist, as well as having a design program for young designers.
Huge thanks to Nubia Williams for taking the time to talk to us, as well as contributing her designs to be featured in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of POLISHED magazine. Find her at her website, nubia-williams.com.
Pants (right) by Nubia Williams