By Jamie Zimchek
Deftly directing an armful of rich shantung silk under the needle, designer Nicole Paloma finishes the seam, stands up, and shakes out a fully formed Seville skirt. For those of us who reached our sewing apogee making three-pleat masks, this is something akin to magic. For Paloma, this is just another day, and another skirt, one of many that define her decade-plus as a boundary-pushing designer. And after some forays into other out-of-state markets, she’s bringing her skills back home to the Emerald Coast late February.
Paloma is more than just a designer and creator of hand-sewn clothes however, she’s also a champion of women, and, as a recovering alcoholic, a great supporter of those who are finding their way on the adventurous road of recovery. “One of the best gifts you can give to people is to inspire them to see the beauty and find gratitude for exactly who they are,” she says. Her growing selection of hand-painted quote t-shirts with lines like “Gratitude changes everything” and “Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire” have a devoted following amongst many, including the aforementioned, because they do just that.
In a region well known for its beachy aesthetic, Paloma’s designs stand out. For one thing, she doesn’t shy away from black, and her work often includes pieces with a real edge (in the case of a gala gown made of metal mesh, quite literally). For another, she makes apparel with comfort in mind, often choosing fabrics in soft knits that suit a variety of body types and a range of ages without losing their cool factor. Paloma says, “Personally I don’t want to get out of my yoga pants or my sweat pants, so I try to make my clothes fit like that, but look like they’re ready for a stroll down Fifth Avenue – with the right shoes of course!”
In the past, you could find her bathing-suit clad, a toddler attached at the hip, stopping in on a rare day off to custom fit a client’s dress. Back again in Florida this spring, you’ll still find kids in tow, slightly older now, but thoroughly part of the process. Though her couture pieces can be found at galas and other formal events, Paloma herself is decidedly down to earth. Wandering barefoot between bolts of fabric, there’s a good chance she’s been hard at work since the early morning hours, and will be there still long after everyone else has called it a day, subsisting on her three c’s: chocolate, cheese, and coffee.
Full disclosure: I share a collaborative line of hand-painted textiles with Paloma, and stock my jewelry in her stores, so clearly I’m biased. In other words – slip away to the new store and get a glimpse of the wizardry for yourself.
Grand Opening late February at 27 Hub Lane (The Hub), Inlet Beach, Florida. Follow @nicole_paloma_handsewn_designs on Instagram or text 850-585-8999 for more information.