Introducing Nico Ni

In George Perec’s novel “A Void” which he wrote entirely without the letter “e” there is a story about a ring.  Perec compares it to a scab because it has almost become part of the body with age and wear.  Although the similarity conjures a hidious image I agree with the idea of jewellery being intimate to the body.  I also love the idea of the organic  and imperfections of hand made jewellery and I feel Nico Ni’s handmade peices have this quality.

Nico Ni tells us of her inspiring journeys and the people that have helped her create her collections.  She is beautiful, sexy, edgy and full of creative talent which is clearly translated in to her work.

              For her AW11 collection she presents on her own grandma Veronica Jean Leech. 

 Could you tell us a little about you, your name, age, where you are currently living? My full name is Nicole Alexandra Leech, 23 from Leeds. I was born in the south but lived in the north; it’s the place to be.

Where did you start designing and making jewellery? I’ve always had a fascination in jewellery, I used to make pieces out of found objects, broken pieces at home and in school, my first project was 8 years ago in school I made a body piece out of wire, but carried my studies on at Leeds Fashion school with Fine Jewellery.  I Knew once I started to see and feel the joy of making jewellery I needed the push so I worked along side a well known designer in her studio where she educated me in areas I didn’t know jewellery had, I then started working for her in the production line, following on to design, but left as I knew I wanted my own label and needed to design my own feelings, its not what jewellery is about if you don’t design your own pieces.

 Where do you work, what are you methods of working? I have my own studio space in my flat, I’ve recently just moved it’s a small space but I love it, once your in the right frame its perfect I have everything I need around me, its important to have a nice clear space when working or you wont get the final piece, you need to dedicate your self to that piece and that piece only or it will just go wrong, measurements are important for my jewellery so I need to focus when making. I have body mannequins for the body pieces but I tend to use my own body as I can see a lot better the result then plus you get a nice feel when making them.

All my pieces are made by hand and from me only, that’s why a lot of my pieces are couture and one offs, I don’t like to make big batches of the pieces anyway it takes the whole feel of nico ni away, the point of my collections is that they are for the person wearing them.

Who and what inspire you and your work? This is a question that can be one line or one page long. Little things that inspires me now is the big pile of chains I have on my table, I have hundreds of different style of chain I look at I get inspired by the mess and start make something, that’s what happens most of the time, but the inspiration was when I ran away to brazil a few years ago, that was a life changing event and opened my eyes, inspired me in so many ways the whole experience did. The rebels, the urban life, the fact that the most intelligent people that have nothing in life are the most fascinating people. The one thing that really inspired me was when I was in the favela and I met a guy who had a workshop that he made out of trash cans and he sat there every day making models out of metal ive never seen anything like it, he took my chain and said come back tomorrow I will have you a present, went back and he made me a massive neck piece out of trash metal.  But I could type for days on that event, but the bottom line is travelling is a major part in my jewellery. 

I also went to India that pushed my work in the silver industry, an India old man who was naked on an empty beach randomly quizzed me about a ring I had on, I ended up chatting to him and he was one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had.

 How would you describe your style? I don’t have one, I love fashion obviously but I don’t have one, bubba style maybe? Because I have so much going on anyway with my hands and arms I don’t tend to wear major eye catching pieces. Simple and comfy is the one. 

 What is your favorite item you own? can I cheat and have two? Actually can I cheat even more and say three. My pinky rings they are my life, my silver pistol, and my tattoos.

What is your favorite piece from your collection? My Nina hand chains, they are too sexy, I gave mine away to my grandma though, but I think my winter shoe chain collection might be my favorite soon, but favorite is a strong word when you design everything yourself!

 Do you have big plans for your future? Big is not the word. Work hard play hard I tell myself every day. It worked with my last project, I love having plans it makes it really exciting! I think if you have great plans for the future you are doing one thing right!

And most importantly where can we buy your work? I’m actually setting up my online store soon so the wait is over, but you can personally message me like everyone else.  Also there are pieces on and But my latest male collection is in my new male boutique Dirty Girl Store. (Leeds)   I love guys that wear jewellery.

So now you know a little about the girl and where to get her pieces and if it appeals and intrigues you as much as it does I, then please check her out!  Thanks Nicole and I shall be purchasing VERY soon!!  All the best in the future in your fun adventure.  Anyone with a passion like that should go far.


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