Suspenders made from plumbing supplies, dresses made from liquid, and a workshop that turns into a bedroom. Rachael Clegg meets the dress designer with an infinite imagination.
SCOTT Nickson’s imagination knows no bounds. And neither do his dresses.
For four years, the budding Rotherham designer has been creating dresses made from latex, feathers, plumbing materials, studs and, in some cases, even fabric.
“I always think I am creating a sculpture more than a dress,” admits Scott, aged 27. “I like being creative and being hands-on with things.”
A testament to this hands-on ethos is in his workroom-cum-bedroom, in which the space-saving is so ingenious it could give Ikea a run for its money. Huge slide-out wardrobes - which he built himself - contain reams of fabric, boxed dresses, beads and even his bed.
“I sleep on these,” he smiles, pointing to three old sofa cushions. “The bedding’s in a box.”
Behind him is a fold-out art desk, attached to the wall, which he built while he was at school. Next to that is an oriental-style cabinet, which he also built himself.
And then - the piece de resistance of his DIY furniture - the desk that doesn’t contain a single screw.
“It’s held together by the forces of the wood,” he says.
But, while his furniture is impressive, his dresses are, quite literally, out of this world.
The Black Glove was Scott’s first venture into couture - a stunning ornament in its own right. The dress comprises a sexy mesh corset and a huge, flowing trail made from net and ostrich feathers.
“There are 52 feathers on that dress,” he smiles.
The frock hangs on a mannequin and, though lifeless, looks to have life in it.
“That’s based on a memory I have of a dress I saw years ago. I made a drawing of the dress and then decided to make the dress itself.”
Part of the appeal of dressmaking for Scott is creating the structure.
“I love making corsets - I love creating dresses with structure and I like working with all kinds of materials. It can be anything - I’ve just taken down an aluminium blind that I will try to make a dress out of.”
Illustrating his point is a naked mannequin clad in nothing but suspenders made of plumber’s straps.
“I don’t know what you call these things but they are what plumbers use to tighten up pipes,” he says. “You have to use a screwdriver to tighten them up or loosen them off.”
The belts aren’t part of a kinky fantasy - they’ve been especially designed to hold down a tight latex dress, which is stretched over another mannequin.
“I made the latex from scratch, with water and let it set. The plan is to fix hinges to some more latex, which will then attach to the dress, so it moves with the body,” says Scott, from Kimberworth.
He demonstrates the action with his right leg.
There is definitely something of the mad professor about Scott.
He’s fashion’s answer to Doctor Emmett Brown from Back to the Future, complete with the wild hair.
“Once I get an idea in my head I have to do something with it - draw it or make it - otherwise it drives me mad.”
Scott takes inspiration from art, film, music and life but - bizarrely - not fashion.
“I appreciate that people follow fashion but I don’t want other people’s ideas to influence my own,” he says.
Scott has already started taking orders for his dresses.
“I’ve been asked to make some bridesmaid dresses and a dress for a lady to wear at a wedding. But my dream commission would be a wedding dress - one that I could create as I liked, but that’s never going to happen!”
Not all Scott’s dresses are wild and theatrical. His ‘off the rack’ range is what Scott describes as ‘wearable’. These dresses include a muslin shift dress and a slinky, off-the shoulder day dress.
But despite their relative simplicity, his ‘off-the-rack’ dresses are painstakingly well-crafted.
“I hand-stitched the collar on one of these, it took ages but you can’t see a single stitch - that’s the look I wanted.”
And while Scott has no formal qualifications in fashion or textiles, his mum - a former seamstress - is on hand.
“It’s great having my mum for technical guidance,” he says. “I wasn’t good at textiles at school and constantly had to ask the teacher to re-thread my needle.”
Since leaving Thomas Rotherham College almost 10 years ago, Scott has led a somewhat isolated existence penning his ideas and creating his wearable and unwearable sculptures.
His sketchbooks are packed with intricate pencil drawings of various corsets, dresses and fantastical women with tree roots for hair.
“I like the idea of branches trailing from an outfit, so I’ve designed a dress that’s strapped up with trails of fabric at the bottom.”
He points to an image of a woman with strapped-up legs and trails of fabric at her feet.
“But that’s just in my head,” he says, as he flicks through the sketchbook.
“And I’m not sure how wearable it is!”