Sonja Nuttall

Elizabeth Kutesko

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA029

British fashion designer and design consultant Sonja Nuttall (b. 28 January 1973) completed her MA in Fashion Design at Central Saint Martin’s School of Art and Design in London in 1993. She presented her first catwalk show the same year, in a special event held at the Harvey Nichols store, Knightsbridge, in coordination with London Fashion Week. “Adagio in No. 5” consisted of ten dresses, in contrasting shades of white and chocolate brown, all of which were cut on the bias from muslin, silk, and textured velvet. As Nuttall explained, the collection was “a slow, romantic movement. I wanted it to have a floaty, ghostly, timeless feel.” She was heralded as a young Jil Sander due to her minimalist aesthetic, which combined elegance, luxury, and effortless chic.

Nuttall is inspired by Japanese designers of the early 1980s, such as Yohji Yamamoto and Rei Kawakubo, whom she believes have “true integrity for design.” These designers challenged Western clothing conventions that determine good taste and the “perfect fit,” giving new definitions to notions of femininity and masculinity. Nuttall similarly favors a stark and purist palette, combining strong and varied shades of black with the crispness and simplicity of white. Experimenting with materials and geometries, she strives to express the complexity of the modern woman, such as past muse Tilda Swinton, by giving traditional men’s tailoring a contemporary and feminine twist. According to Nuttall: “It is important for me to be inspired by individuality, inner strength, and beauty within.” At the core of her work lies a fascination with form and cut, but also a perceptive production strategy: “We’re here to run a business. My clothes have to be commercial, but commercial in the sense of offering timeless wearability.”

From 1996 Nuttall began selling consulting services and creative direction to a number of brands, including Marks and Spencer Autograph, Furla, John Varvatos, Vidal Sassoon, Bamford, and Margaret Howell. She became head designer at Jil Sander in 2004, following the departure of Sander, and cofounded the Urban Zen Foundation with American designer Donna Karan in 2006, a global humanitarian charity that aims to “raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures, and empowering children.” Nuttall is currently creative director of TCG, a digital branding and social media agency, and designs for 12369 and TIME, a custom-made jewelry and watch collection. She also runs a consultancy firm, Warm Grey Seven Inc., which specializes in fashion, interiors, and product design.

Sonja Nuttall, Fall/Winter 1995 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Blanchard Tamsin, ““Style: Toughing It Out in Taffeta: Tamsin Blanchard on Two Young Designers with a Realistic Approach to Fashion”.” The Independent , 16 October 1993 .

Sonja Nuttall. Website. .

Find in Library ”“Sonja Nuttall to Front Jil Sander”.” The Independent , 29 November 2004 .

Find in Library Spindler Amy. ““Review/Fashion: From Young Designers, Familiar Echoes”.” The New York Times , 14 March 1995 .

Urban Zen. Website. .