Nikki Tsikounas of Nikki Marie Apparel Shares the Vintage Inspirations for Her Designs

Nikki Tsikounas, the designer and maker behind Nikki Marie Apparel, is smitten with mid-century style and culture. In her Santa Rosa studio she creates made-to-order dresses, tops, skirts, coats, baking aprons, and scarfs that capture the fun and exuberance of the era. We asked Nikki why she loves and is inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, and for some of her favorite style icons, designers, movies, music, and places.

I’ve always felt a strong connection to the 1950s and 1960s. I believe in past lives and I think I had a 1957 Bel Air in my past life in that era. I’m currently working on my Lucite purse collection from my antique and thrift store hunts. I love finding items from that time. They used to make quality garments and accessories back then, so that’s why I love making custom dresses reminiscent of that period.

My style icon is a mix of Marilyn Monroe (above, in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) and Iris Apfel (below). I like classic silhouettes with a lot of color.

Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Hubert de Givenchy, William Travilla and Ceil Chapman are my favorite designers of the era.

Above: Designs by Coco Chanel

Above: Designs by Christian Dior

“I wish more people dressed like that today.”

Above: Designs by Hubert de Givenchy, and with Audrey Hepburn (r)

Above: William Travilla with Marilyn Monroe (l) and a gown by Ceil Chapman (r)

My favorite vintage movies are Cover Girl with Rita Hayworth, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, and Breakfast At Tiffany’s with Audrey Hepburn.

Vintage music would be pretty much all the classics of the 1950s and 1960s. Chuck Berry stands out for me because of the guitar riffs. I would like to be able to play like that one day on my mint blue Fender Stratocaster. Henry Mancini’s soundtrack to Breakfast At Tiffany’s is a perfect album to play for a mid-century themed party.

My favorite place is the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. I took a trip there this summer and stayed in the Carin Room – where these fabulous photos were taken.

So much I love from the 1950s and 1960s fashion and music! I wish more people dressed like that today.

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