According to Greek myth, Nomia was a water nymph who spent her days nude, bathing in the sun. Inspired by the mythical character’s minimalist take on clothing, the New York-based fashion label of the same name explores the feminine charm of nude colourways and clean lines. Uninterested in creating overtly sexy designs, Yara Flinn, the line’s artisan, focuses her creative energy on imbuing collections with a sense of sustainability and practicality.
“I love exercising my creativity, but ultimately it’s important for the women wearing your clothes to feel beautiful and confident,”she says. “It’s less about a collection being inspired by an idea than it is about the women who will be wearing the pieces, how they will wear them, and what they can wear them with.”
Flinn has the pose and thoughtfulness of a seasoned veteran, but her fashion career is still budding (albeit at a rapid rate), and carries with it a fresh vision that speaks to its unconventional origins. Not many think of fashion design as Plan B — start a clothing company if “all else fails,” as Flinn recalls thinking — but a gainful combination of frustration and curiosity is precisely how Flinn started down the fashion design path after studying visual arts at Oberlin, Ohio’s renowned private liberal arts college. “There are so many things I have wanted to do!” Flinn shares, listing being an art teacher among her fancies. It could have been a viable option after her summer job at Fondazione Prada in Milan, post-Oberlin, if Flinn hadn’t decided to make the leap into fashion and accept an internship with the Japanese emporium United Bamboo.
From there, Flinn began playing around with her own designs, sewing dresses for her friends until Barney’s caught wind of her dabbles in design and placed an order. And so, in 2007, Nomia was born.
“I think if I had gone to school to study fashion design I wouldn’t have started designing,” Flinn professes. “It worked much better for me to do fashion my own way, more through art: staging fashion shows outside with live video projections and music, hand-sewing crazy one-off costumes, and really just getting to be creative.”
The designer’s penchant for visual art has not, as often is the case in fashion, inhibited the line’s mainstream appeal, particularly true of her most recent releases. Brimming with mesh and lace, the Spring 2010 collection finds extra touches of femininity in a pastel colour palette of pinks and yellows, while never plunging into the ephemeral. Fall 2010 showcases Flinn’s signature asymmetric cuts, reminiscent of Calvin Klein’s simple shapes and Helmut Lang’s intricate detailing.
Flinn’s burgeoning success includes having her designs coveted by the Empress of grunge, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth; a coveted spot in Gen Art’s “The New Garde,” this past season’s pre- New York Fashion Week kickoff presentation; and a place on stock lists in the hottest boutiques across the U.S., including New York’s In God We Trust and Revolve in Los Angeles. And, as a testament to the classic and enduring quality of Nomia’s design, the label has recently been inducted into the legendary St. Regis Room in Toronto’s downtown Hudson’s Bay Company. A women’s salon, known for carrying some of the most prestigious designer labels available in Canada, Nomia now shares space with designers including Balmain, Emmanuel Ungaro, Moschino Couture, Valentino Roma, Armani Collezioni and Lida Baday, amongst others.
Like the iconic Stella McCartney, Flinn belongs to a school of women designers who design clothes for women like themselves. “I want my pieces to be in women’s wardrobes for a long time, so I try to make them more timeless than just trendy,” reflects Flinn. With so many designers popping up around all corners proclaiming originality, it has become increasingly difficult to vouch for a brand’s staying power. Not so in Flinn’s case; her commitment to artistic expression, in conjunction with her business acumen displayed thus far, is enough to wager that Nomia will outlast its pop status and age well as a part of the fashion canon, connecting with women through their purest form of self-expression — clothing.
Hair – Richard Cooley for Tresemme using 24hour products, Utopia NYC
Makeup – Alex Almeida
Models – Molly Gunn & Lydia Carron, NEXT (NY)