At the turn of the twentieth century, Detroit was considered the Paris of the Midwest with its French influenced architecture and design.

Nicole Jarecz spent many years in Paris perfecting her craft in fashion illustration. She’s worked with Marie Claire, Elle, Saks Fifth Avenue, and many other notable publications, retailers, and designers. She’s now back in Detroit doing live illustration pop-ups in the city and freelancing for designers across the globe.

EXP: How did you get into fashion illustration?

NJ: During my third year of school at the College for Creative Studies I was introduced to Rene Gruau and that was it for me. I was hooked! At the time there wasn’t a program for fashion, so a professor helped me start an independent study in fashion illustration. After graduation I started working for magazines and agencies which landed me in France for many years.

EXP: What has been your favorite project to work on or designer to work with?

NJ: My favorite project to work on was with French luxury brand, Roger Vivier. They had a change in creative direction to make the brand more modern and it was an honor to be a part of it.

EXP: What is Detroit’s best kept secret?

NJ: John K King Used & Rare Books boasts a massive collection of books. It’s definitely a unique place to visit in Detroit.

John K. King Use & Rare Books (left), The Fisher Building (right)

EXP: You’ve done pop-up live sketching events all over the city. What has been your favorite spot to work?

NJ: The most memorable sketching event I did was in the Birdy Room at the Shinola Hotel for a private event hosted by Tapper’s Jewelry. I illustrated individual gemstones as a unique custom piece of jewelry to give the buyer an idea of what their gemstone could be transformed into. The event was beautiful, and the space was breathtaking to work in.

EXP: If you’re in the city on a Friday night where are you going for dinner and drinks?

NJ: I am definitely at The Apparatus Room inside the Detroit Foundation Hotel. I love the open bar and lounge concept that opens to the dining room. The food gets better every time and the French 75’s (my favorite pre-dinner drink) are on point. I also have an appreciation for the rotating artwork in the lobby. It’s nice to see that they collaborate with Detroit creatives!

The Apparatus Room at Detroit Foundation Hotel

EXP: If you could have a staycation downtown, where are you staying?

NJ: Hands down, I would love to stay at the Shinola Hotel. The decor throughout the building, inside and out is stunning and the views facing Woodward Ave. are incredible.

EXP: Detroit has so much charm and beauty. Are there any buildings in the city that still take your breath away?

NJ: Honestly, there are so many buildings so it’s hard to pick just one. The Wright-Kay Building screams big city charm and of course Wright & Company is one of my favorite cocktail spots. The Fisher Building will always have a special place in my heart because I always loved having a view of the building when I lived in Midtown. And last but not least, the Reid Building in Cadillac Square has a ton of character and of course, The Keep is a hidden gem.

The Shinola Hotel

EXP: Do you have any resolutions or goals for the New Year?

NJ: I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. I think you need to constantly put goals in place for yourself if you want to grow, not just in the new year. That being said, in 2020 I’m hoping to take my sketching events to other cities across the country and explore different mediums and styles.

EXP: What fashion trends are you ready to say goodbye to and what are you excited to welcome in 2020?

NJ: Flared jeans and satin, no thanks! I’m still into my leopard print, although I know that trend is getting a bit overdone. I’m very simple and monochromatic when it comes to my personal fashion. As an artist I’m able to dream up anything I want in an illustration. Seeing and drawing clothing and accessories brings me more joy than owning any of it.