‘Thread Fetish’ and the First Anniversary of Embellished

Internationally renowned fashion trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort has featured Bloomsbury author and textile designer Karen Nicol in her recently published book, Fetishism in Fashion, as Nicol’s own Embellished reaches its first anniversary of publication.

Nicol discusses her ‘thread fetish’ and the ‘treasure trove’ of vintage items, procured, ‘magpie like’, from museums, galleries and car boot sales that is the inspiration for her mixed media textile design.

One of a collection of over 200 one-off cashmere jumpers created in collaboration with Clements Ribeiro, all embellished with vintage finds


Subconsciously, I have been influenced again and again by my fetish for the collected paraphernalia in my archive… My collections have had remarkable intuitive impact on my designs over the years.

A collar worked in collaboration with Tracy Mulligan for Darren Edward at Xterity for a charity fashion show called ‘Fashion is Art’

Embellished, which has its first birthday this August, showcases the creative processes and techniques through which Nicol transforms overlooked, discarded items and sees the potential to create something beautiful, striking and unique. Materials used are diverse and include exotic feathers, plastic jewelry, buttons, and vintage millinery straw.

Fish created with Irish machine embroidery and glass organza for shows in London and New York



What is exceptional about embroidery is that you can use it with the same mark-making freedom as a painter uses a paintbrush, or a sculptor embraces form. We become ‘painters’ with textures and qualities and there are a million different surfaces to play with.

Embellished is a beautiful book that gives insight into the journey behind making extraordinary fashion items from vintage pieces that will inspire textile and fashion enthusiasts of all abilities.

Don’t forget to check out our online free sample and Pinterest board to see more of Karen’s stunning pieces!


Karen Nicol is a well-known British textile artist/designer whose clients have included Chanel, Givenchy, Matthew Williamson, Clements Ribeiro, Anthropologie, Designers Guild, and the Powerhouse museum, Sydney. She is a Visiting Professor at the Royal College of Art and exhibits with the Rebecca Hossack Gallery.