Meet Nicole Paprosky of The Order

tell us about your products. where they are made. who makes them. favorite product features.

THE ORDER is known for jet-black, made-to-order, goth-glam separates that appeal to an unexpectedly wide range of women: my customers include everything from artists, stylists and musicians to real-estate brokers, lawyers and medical professionals. Even my mom wears it...and she does so beautifully. My favorite pieces to create usually fall in the lingerie realm, but each collection usually includes a series of bodysuits, sheer pants, raw- edged leather wraps and crop tops with hundreds of sable safety pins sprinkled throughout.

tell us about your connection to Chicago. your neighborhood.

I live in the West Loop and work out of my studio in Pilsen, and I love both neighborhoods equally! At home I’m in the middle of a part of Chicago that’s exploding in terms of development, and at my studio I’m surrounded by artists and a neighborhood that’s simultaneously old Chicago and new.

what do you love about your business, your industry.

I’ve always had a penchant for things that don’t exist, from the ability to stop time to zero-calorie cheese...and, most significantly, a highly specific wardrobe that no existing clothing line seemed to offer. What began as cutting and re-assembling leggings as a child transitioned over time to learning how to design and construct garments properly, which has become what THE ORDER is today….I love creating what I wish I could find in stores, and nothing makes me happier than finding people who love the pieces as much as I do.

tell us about your design inspiration - space, smells, colors, textures.

Translating my inspiration into a collection of garments is somewhat alchemical. I work backwards, by beginning with a conceptual approach to something I feel strongly about. I design the garments before I’ve fully developed the story, and my sketches often contain more words than images. I generally know exactly what I want to achieve- the challenge is just how to achieve it in the context of the story I desire to tell. Materials and color are critical- black comes in a multitude of shades and opacities, so each collection is monogamous in color but promiscuous in depth. Sheer, delicate fabrics like silk chiffon or glissinette work so well in contrast with more robust textures like leather or vinyl, ultimately lending themselves to an aesthetic that treads the line between feminine and fierce.

what advice do you have for other creative entrepreneurs?

Don't overthink it! I'm the queen of overthinking, so I'm reminding everyone else because it's a reminder I always need too ;)

share a favorite quote, a mantra.

The better you dress, the worse you can behave.

surprise us with your secret talent, fact, etc.

I'm an amateur magician.

what's the most common question you get about your business?

“Are you ever going to do anything in color?”

tell us about your process for making + creating.

There really is no process or recipe- it’s very instinctual, and it’s “off” just as often as it’s “on.” There have been pieces I’ve spent months developing (fabric, fit, drape, etc.) that have never sold, and pieces that I’ve thrown in last-minute that have been the most-loved from one season to the next. But one thing that's steadfast about my process is that I proudly design, cut and sew every piece by hand here in Chicago.

name 3 local makers/brands that inspire you and why.

Jeanette Andrews- she's not a maker, but she’s a powerhouse of a magician that works with scent and science. She makes all of her own prototypes, and has patents some of her work. Nelissa Carillo of Stronger Wiser Everyday- she’s an incredibly talented designer whose gender-fluid brand is one of the coolest and most unique I’ve ever seen.

what is the best advice you've ever been given and how has it shaped you and your business?

To "trust myself"- it's incredibly cliche, but it's guided me from the beginning...every time I've deviated from my instinct and listened to outside influence, I've never been as happy with the result. Regardless of the good intention that may drive someone's input, their vantage point is never the same. Relying on what I want to do and how has helped give THE ORDER its identity, and maintained its connection to me and my "medium" as an artist.

Connect with The Order

@thisistheorder on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest

Jessica Cohen