From a haute ro­mance to a fash­ion­able af­fair

How the de­signer be­hind T.O. fash­ion la­bel Narces met her hus­band & manag­ing direc­tor

Thornhill Post - - Currents -

Aus­tria-born power cou­ple Nikki Wirthen­sohn Yassemi and Ste­fan Wirthen­sohn, of the Toron­to­based womenswear la­bel Narces, can trace their suc­cess in life and love back to their first date in Toronto. Nikki, the cre­ative direc­tor and de­signer be­hind the la­bel, has risen to the top of the fash­ion in­dus­try with her hus­band Ste­fan by her side as the manag­ing direc­tor of her line. As the two gear up for Toronto Fash­ion Week in Yorkville (Sept. 4 to 6), where mod­els will daz­zle on the run­way dressed head to toe in her cock­tail at­tire and evening­wear, the two look back on their courtship and how it all started.

How they met

Nikki: We met dur­ing our MBA stud­ies at Schulich School of Busi­ness. Ste­fan was an ex­change stu­dent from Aus­tria, and I was also born in Aus­tria. So we got into a lot of birth coun­try de­bates at a univer­sity event that my clos­est MBA friend had begged me to go, which Ste­fan had or­ga­nized.

The first date

Ste­fan: Soon af­ter, we had our first date at a cool cock­tail bar on Col­lege Street. Nikki was the one who ini­ti­ated our first date and asked me out to tour around the city with its im­por­tant sites to see. Con­ve­niently it was read­ing week, which gave us a lot of time to spend to­gether 24/7, and we started dat­ing since that point on. This was two months be­fore I had to go back to Aus­tria!

The pro­posal

Nikki: We loved a fa­mous Ger­man kids book, Oh, Wie schön ist Panama, where a tiger and bear leave their home to find Panama, the best place in the world, to come back home and re­al­ize that home is the best place. So Ste­fan or­ga­nized a trip to Panama in the sum­mer of 2006 and pro­posed there. While in Panama, I re­al­ized soon enough what was about to hap­pen, and he felt ner­vous and sick. So the pro­posal had to wait! Still Ste­fan pulled through, and I said yes!

The wed­ding

Nikki: We got mar­ried on Aug. 8, 2008, in the South of France at Chateau Dior. I de­signed both of my dresses, and none other than my mother made these beau­ti­ful gar­ments. The first dress for the cer­e­mony was a cloud of gath­ered mini tiers of tulle with 3D hand­made flow­ers on the bust. The sec­ond dress for the evening was in­spired by 1950s bal­le­rina dresses and was made out of dou­ble-sided silk satin.

The hon­ey­moon

Ste­fan: We didn’t re­ally have time for a real hon­ey­moon and still are talk­ing about do­ing one now. We went to Cor­sica for four days af­ter our wed­ding, which we called our hon­ey­days.

Home life

Nikki: We live and work in the most beau­ti­ful vil­lage, for­merly known as Yorkville Vil­lage, es­tab­lished in 1830 and then an­nexed into Toronto in 1883 (the Rosedale-Yorkville area). Su­per cen­tral, in­spir­ingly cre­ative with beau­ti­ful art gal­leries, unique bou­tiques, beau­ti­ful parks, flag­ship stores for all ma­jor lux­ury brands, gor­geous ho­tels and restau­rants, all within walk­ing dis­tance. Our house is also our de­sign stu­dio and is a her­itage house from 1870, close to Yonge and Bloor.

The kids

Nikki: We have two chil­dren. Zoë is six, and Aryo is three.

Bal­anc­ing ca­reers and mar­riage

Ste­fan: Our life bal­ance is not al­ways easy be­cause we are run­ning our own com­pany to­gether, and the fam­ily keeps us very, very busy. We try to have at least one to two date nights a month to recharge and re­con­nect and try not to talk about busi­ness. But we just end up look­ing at pic­tures of our kids that we miss af­ter a few hours.

Shared in­ter­ests

Ste­fan: We both love film and mu­sic. So movie nights and con­certs are on the agenda as of­ten as pos­si­ble.

Se­cret for suc­cess

Nikki: Not sure if we have a se­cret that works for every­one. We do be­lieve that all cou­ples need to do it their way! One thing that we both be­lieve is im­por­tant is keep­ing in mind that, even though we are to­gether in a re­la­tion­ship, we need to be happy in­di­vid­u­ally!

“We had our first date at a cool cock­tail bar on Col­lege Street.”

Nikki and Ste­fan on their wed­ding day

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