Designer Nicole Miller on the Power of Dressing "Happy"

As her nicole by Nicole Miller line celebrates 10 years in the biz, the print-loving fashion force wants you to up the ante on wearing your heart on your sleeve.

In a world where designer collaborations that bring big names to the masses are now the norm, Nicole Miller and JCPenney were pioneers. The brand nicole by Nicole Miller has been on their shelves for 10 years now—and today, Miller shows no signs of slowing down. 

Among friends, colleagues, and media, Miller showed off her 10-year anniversary collection, which was a mix of graphic jewel patterns and leopard prints, black pleather, and feathers. We caught up with the designer to talk about how she sees—and dresses—the modern woman.

Marie Claire: What was the inspiration for this collection?

Nicole Miller: I wanted to do something exciting, so just jewelry and bling and just creating some excitement—colors and texture and prints.

MC: It's crazy to think your first collection for JCPenney was a decade ago! Do you remember what your first collection was like?

NM: It definitely doesn't feel like 10 years! The first collection, well, it was a lot more conservative and it was just a little bit more traditionally feminine. A lot of monochrome.

MC: How have the collections changed? Is there anything you've seen completely change in terms of fashion as a whole in the span of a decade?

NM: It's honestly not the way it used to be—before people were so influenced by collections. But not, it's really anything goes! You can wear anything as long as you style it right. 

MC: Was there anything you really focused on this time around?

NM: I like to use a color balance, so it's not all one thing; one look. It's got the warm tones, it's got the cool tones. When I do all these prints, I like these combination of colors; all sides of the spectrum. I mean, I do have monotone pieces, but I think the look is all very happy.


(Image credit: Patrick McMullan)

MC: Who were you designing for? What kind of woman?

NM: Well, they are very much like "go to work and go out." It's more on the casual side than the dressy side, but we do have our pieces that are dressy—like the feather dress. We do a little less of the glitzy, though. 

MC: Is there anything looking back that you thought, "Wow, never again"?

NM: There were some prints that maybe I didn't like as much, but I'm just so careful about the prints now. But no, there's not anything I wouldn't have done. I mean, you look back at some of the early collections, and it still works. 

Shop the collection at JCPenney and

Samantha Leal
Senior Editor

Samantha Leal is the Deputy Editor at Well+Good, where she spends most of her day thinking of new ideas across platforms, bringing on new writers, overseeing the day-to-day of the website, and working with the awesome team to produce the best stories and packages. Before W+G, she was the Senior Web Editor for Marie Claire and the Deputy Editor for, with bylines all over the internet. Graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a minor in African history, she’s written everything from travel guides to political op-eds to wine explainers (currently enrolled in the WSET program) to celebrity profiles. Find her online pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.