Nikki De Marchi is an Australian-Italian designer of women’s swimwear and beachwear. Born to a surfer-boy father and fashion designer mother, Nikki grew up surfing on the east coast of Australia. She later moved to Paris, then London, where she studied part time at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design.
Part surfer girl, part gypsy, part entrepreneur, Nikki also holds an MBA from INSEAD, and founded her own brand in London in 2013. Not only do her travels inspire her collections, they lie at the heart of the brand’s identity, embodied by the idea ‘Have Bikini. Will Travel’. Today her designs are sold in some of the world’s most exclusive holiday destinations including Mustique, the Bahamas, Beirut, and Mauritius.
Nikki now lives between London and the Cote d’Azur. She continues to surf and kite-surf, and tests all her own designs both in and out of the water.
We caught up with Nikki for the latest in our ‘My London’ interview series.
I’m a Francophile at heart, so I love South Kensington. It feels like a little piece of France in London.
Favourite place for brunch:
Granger in Notting Hill. Best scrambled eggs in the world.
Best coffee in London:
The Borough Barista on Seymour St near Marble Arch make an excellent cortado.
Favourite gallery or museum:
Sothebys on New Bond St, where you can view the collections before they go to auction. It’s free to visit, less crowded than a museum, and seeing such extraordinary works of art with a matching price tag gives a new dimension to the experience.
Tell us a secret:
I once snuck into the Royal Opera House during a closed dress rehearsal for the opera ‘La Cenerentola’. Aside from the performers, the director, and the orchestra, my friend Richard and I were the only other people in the theatre. It was like having our very own private performance, and I’ve been going to the opera ever since.
Favourite place to shop:
A small boutique on Gloucester Rd called ICON.AU. They stock some of my favourite Australian designers, such as Alex Perry and Christopher Esber, as well my own brand. I try not to go in there too often because I can never leave empty-handed!
Favourite place to find inspiration:
I think what makes London so inspiring are the people who live there. One evening I found myself at drinks with a Byzantine art specialist and a marine archaeologist who were lamenting the trade in stolen antiquities. I can’t think of many other cities in the world where that would happen so easily.
Best London destination for a date:
I like Jikoni on Blandford St. It’s a Kenyan restaurant with great food and cocktails (try the Dawa), and if the date goes well you can head over to Chiltern St Firehouse for a nightcap.
I go running around Hyde Park most days and never get tired of seeing how it changes throughout the seasons. It’s especially beautiful in Spring when the first magnolia buds open.
Favourite food market:
Brixton on Saturdays. They have a great selection of seafood as well as Afro-Caribbean fruit and vegetables. The covered market is a great place to stop for lunch afterwards and is always heaving with locals.
Your sanctuary in the city:
The South Kensington Club is my home away from home. It’s elegant, calm, cosy, and the perfect place to work or meet friends.
What inspires you?
Maybe it’s a cliché, but I’m inspired by travel. Not only places I’ve been, but also places I dream of going to. My new Mexicali collection was designed without ever having set foot in Mexico, but now I can’t wait to go!
This season I’m loving:
Red velvet cupcakes at Hummingbird Bakery.
Vinyasa yoga classes with Sue Yen Wan.
The fireplace at the South Kensington Club.
The cheese counter at Harrods.
Weekends at Soho Farmhouse.
Black skinny jeans.
No.54 red velvet lip glide by Nars.
Escaping to Barbados for winter sun.
Hanging out in east London.
The ‘Pair of Guns’ cocktail at Peyote.
Seeing the first signs of Spring in Hyde Park.