Nicole Chang on Designing Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Gowns: 'Didn't Know Where or When She'd Wear Them' (Exclusive)

The designer behind couture company Nicole + Felicia speaks with PEOPLE about working with Swift’s stylist, Joseph Cassell Falconer, on three separate dresses

<p>John Shearer/TAS23/Getty for TAS Rights Management</p> Taylor Swift on The Eras Tour in Kansas City

John Shearer/TAS23/Getty for TAS Rights Management

Taylor Swift on The Eras Tour in Kansas City

When designer Nicole Chang of couture label Nicole + Felicia first saw Taylor Swift wearing the brand’s custom gold ball gown on the U.S. Eras Tour, during the Speak Now portion on opening night in Arizona, her initial reaction was to scream with glee.

“It was really crazy,” the designer and creative director, who co-founded her brand with sister Felicia Chang, tells PEOPLE exclusively.

Not long after, a second Nicole + Felicia creation — a bespoke lilac confection crafted from 500 yards of custom-made glitter tulle and 3,000 crystals — hit the stage. Then that was followed by a third — an icy blue halter-neck gown Swift wore as a way to announce her re-recorded album1989 (Taylor's Version) during a concert in Los Angeles.

“I remember we were just really nervous because we didn't know where or when she'd wear them,” says Chang. But when concert videos hit social media, she was over the moon. “I was so happy," she says.

John Shearer/Getty for TAS Rights Management Taylor Swift on opening night of The Eras Tour in Glendale, Arizona
John Shearer/Getty for TAS Rights Management Taylor Swift on opening night of The Eras Tour in Glendale, Arizona

Related: Taylor Swift Wears 5 Blue Outfits Inspired by Her Album '1989' During Final Los Angeles Show on Eras Tour

Bringing the trio of looks to life was no easy feat for Chang and her atelier, and it required a collaborative — and at times intuitive— process with Swift’s stylist Joseph Cassell Falconer.

“He gave us some direction and picked a few styles from our past collections that she loved, and then we made changes from those. That's how we started. The third gown, I think he just trusted us so much. He was just like, ‘I want something blue,’ “ says Chang.

This piece, which Chang calls "a moment" and one of hers and Cassell Falconer's favorite looks, required a meticulous hand. "Our head designer for evening [wear] spent days drawing out the pattern. He was in the office past midnight every day for a week or two.”

Of the entire journey, she continues: “The whole process was very smooth. We actually sent a few samples for Taylor to try on just to get her feedback. We also created the dancers’ dresses as well to match with the gold and the purple gowns.”

<p>Kevin Winter/TAS23/Getty</p> Taylor Swift on The Eras Tour in Inglewood, California

Kevin Winter/TAS23/Getty

Taylor Swift on The Eras Tour in Inglewood, California

Related: Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Outfits, from Her Versace Bodysuit to Her Roberto Cavalli Dress

Chang and her team first got together with Cassell Falconer in 2021, when he approached the sisters to create costumes for Swift’s “I Bet You Think About Me (Taylor's Version)” music video.

She shares, “He went into a showroom, loved our pieces and then he asked if we wanted to design a gown for Taylor. Of course we said yes and then went into work immediately. I think it was within two, three weeks that we had to make the red and white gowns."

Swift’s outfits featured an abundance of floral appliqués trailing down the tulle and organza skirt.

I had to grab everyone who was available to help make the flowers and then cut the petals,” Chang says of how her 40-person team hustled to perfect the intricate pieces. “Joseph really loved working with us because I think we were able to really make his vision and what Taylor really wanted.”

Related: Taylor Swift Says Her First-Ever Concerts in Mexico on Eras Tour Were 'Unforgettable'

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Dressing the Midnights singer put Nicole + Felicia on the map, and the designs were so influential that the company created a wedding gown, called the Danielle, based off of Swift's look for their new collection with Kleinfeld Bridal.

However, Chang admits she and her sister — who were born in Tapei, Taiwan, to parents who worked in the wedding gown manufacturing business — never expected much when they created their company out of their desire to design in 2015.

“We didn't really set a goal where we wanted to be because I feel like starting a brand is something that's really hard. We were very lucky that we got to dress so many celebrities both in Asia and in the United States,” she says. “I remember one day my dad called me and he was like, ‘When you guys started, I thought it was just more like a fun project.’ Now it's actually something that he's really proud of.”

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