America got to know Nick Verreos ten years ago in season two of the hit show Project Runway, the design competition hosted by German supermodel Heidi Klum. Verreos's wit and insight made him a fan favorite, and he's gone on to a successful career designing clothes, teaching fashion, and commenting on television.
His father was a Greek-American diplomat father and his mother was from Panama. Verreos studied political science and international relations at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and only pursued fashion after getting his bachelor's degree. He studied at the the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and graduated with a degree in Advanced Fashion Design.
In 2001 he founded his own clothing line, "Nikolaki," with David Paul, his partner in business and life. Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Carrie Underwood, and – of course – Klum have all worn gowns and cocktail dresses that he has designed.
In 2005 his turn on Project Runway made him known throughout the U.S. He has since appeared on the show as a guest judge. His ready wit, keen eye, and generous spirit have made him a popular commentator on E! Entertainment, Style Network, NBC, and CNN International.
In his own words...
On his childhood memories:
"When I was young, I remember my mom and dad would go to Embassy parties. My mother put her hair up in a a bun, donned big hoop earrings, and wore a long caftan dress. My dad was in a tuxedo, with a pocket scarf. They were so elegant, so chic, so dapper. All I could do was just sit on the floor and draw them. It was kind of weird. When other kids were playing soccer, I was drawing dresses."
On his career:
"I went to fashion school and two years after graduation I started to wonder: why wasn't I a great designer? Why am I not successful? The truth is I wasn't ready. I was so immature, so amateur. I made many mistakes. It took me 10 years to create my own line of clothes, "Nikolaki," of cocktail dresses and gowns."
On his inspiration from Greece:
"During my last vacation in Greece I was very much inspired by the colors of the the bougainvillea, the trees, the roofs of houses, Mykonos, the windmills... everything. I found this fabric, and to me it represented a kaleidoscope of what I would see on my scooter driving from Mykonos Town down to the beach. I'm very influenced by Grecian sculptures, and the Mediterranean, the vision of Athena."
On what he's aiming at:
"If I can, through a garment, through something as silly as fashion, make you feel better, make you feel pretty – then I've done my job."