Nicole Farhi (house)

Vanessa Semmens

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA105

Nicole Farhi, born in France in 1946, studied fashion illustration at the Studio Berçot in Paris. When she started her professional career, she worked in French Connection’s design studio (Bow, London) from 1973 before launching her boutique London brand Nicole Farhi in 1982. This was in partnership with Stephen Marks of the French Connection group. Farhi has described the ethos of the brand as “timeless style and effortless elegance.”

The business model of Nicole Farhi has been described as being “professional fashion,” and it caters to a wide demographic. The price point is less expensive than couture, making it more accessible. The brand creates both menswear and women’s wear, and shows at London Fashion Week and London Collections: Men. Nicole Farhi’s menswear focuses on modern minimalism with a light and functional feel. There is also a range of home wares, and in 2005 Farhi launched a perfume. Between 2005 and 2006 the brand collaborated with a pedal bin company to create an exclusive range.

The link between Farhi and French Connection continued until March 2010, when Nicole Farhi was sold to Open Gate Capital for approximately £5 million. The brand was nominated for a WGSN global fashion award in 2010 for the outstanding visual merchandising category. In the same year, Massimo Nicosia (former head of menswear at Pringle of Scotland) was appointed head of menswear at Nicole Farhi. His first collection was shown at Milan Fashion Week in January 2011.

In August 2011, the brand moved its flagship store from New Bond Street in London (where it had been for seventeen years) to Conduit Street. Kelso Place Asset Management bought the business in 2012 with plans to revive the brand. This year was the thirtieth anniversary of the brand; the collection to celebrate this anniversary was refined, wearable, and featured embellishment.

Joanna Sykes was appointed creative director in July 2012. Sykes, who graduated from Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in London, showed her first collection for Nicole Farhi in fall/winter of 2013. In this same season, the brand dropped menswear from the diffusion line Farhi by Nicole Farhi.

The brand went into administration in July 2013 and was bought by Maxine Hargreaves-Adams, the former head of women’s wear at Matalan. Hargreaves-Adams planned to focus on quality and standards, taking the brand back to its origins in British luxury.

Nicole Farhi, Spring/Summer 1995 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Benbow-Pfalzgraf Taryn, and Richard Martin , eds. Contemporary Fashion . 2nd edn. Detroit : St. James Press, 2002.

Find in Library Campbell Georgina. ““Timeline: Nicole Farhi Falls into Administration”.” Drapers , 4 July 2013 .

Find in Library Gallager Victoria. ”“Nicole Farhi Brings In Nicosia to Head Up Menswear”.” Drapers , 13 December 2010 .

Find in Library Geoghegan Jill. ““Analysts’ Response: Nicole Farhi Collapses into Administration”.” Drapers , 5 July 2013 .

Find in Library Lovett Gina. ““Nicole Farhi Set for Expansion”.” Drapers , 13 January 2012 .

Find in Library Neilan Catherine. ““Nicole Farhi Bought by Matalan Heiress”.” Drapers , 22 July 2013 .

Find in Library Neilan Catherine. ““Nicole Farhi Saviour Vows to Reassure Stockists”.” Drapers , 25 July 2013 .

Find in Library Neskow Vesna. The Little Black Book of London, 2012 . Hong Kong : Peter Pauper Press, 2012.

Find in Library Okonkwo Uche. Luxury Fashion Branding: Trends, Tactics, Techniques . New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.