Nicole Knobel and the fascination of inspiration

The fascination of inspiration

Inspiration comes and goes. We live in a complicated world. In this web of technology, pandemic, and being human, there are billions of ways to be inspired. Nicole Knobel is a hair designer and cigar lover. She tells us in this interview how she gets inspired and shows us fantastic art of her hair creations. Let's let her have her own say:

Hello, I am Nicole

Hello, I am Nicole :)
Hello, I am Nicole 🙂

My name is Nicole Knobel and I am an American. I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Later, I moved to New York City. In 2018, I took a much needed vacation. I met and fell in love with a Swiss cigar producer. Now I am 36 years old and a permanent resident of Switzerland.

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I am founder of the Nicole Knobel Creative Company and Director of Operations at ADVentura Cigars Co. I have allowed two worlds to collide that might never have met before: Beauty and Cigars. Together, my husband and I revel in all things that either stop time, give you time, or remind you of a time. Because in the end, that's what matters, isn't it?

The inspiration to models

You are a hair designer and also create hair accessories for models. Do many of the models enjoy cigars? We want to read names and see photos 🙂 .

Fire and hairpieces are not always the best of friends! We have a strict no smoking policy on set unless we needed a prop.

Nicole Knobel, En Pointe Aqua / Inspiration
What a head of hair!

One of the talents and a BIG fan of ADVentura cigars is Sascha Moeri. He is the CEO of Carl F. Bucherer. He is not in the agencies of the supermodels, but I had the opportunity to work with him.

What was your worst experience working with a model?

I love this question and aptly respond with, "Pre-production is everything and be nice to everyone." Clear expectations mixed with a little gratitude have thankfully saved me from the worst experiences. My best advice is when working with professionals: Understand what they're there for, and we all just want to create beautiful work and get paid for it.

And which experience was the best?

The best experience I had was working with the ballerinas of the Joffrey Ballet Company in Chicago. We created a book of 60 images, all shot with a shutter speed of 1/60 second. 60 images with a shutter speed of 1/60 second = 1 full minute of shots. It took us (my former team and I) 3 years to create.

Incredible hair ornament...
Incredible hair ornament...

The premise of this book was to create highly difficult hair pieces and put the ballerinas in highly difficult poses. Some of these pieces took months to create, but when you see the finished image at the end, it's all worth it. And yes, all of these pieces are made of hair.

Inspired by the cigar smoke.
Inspired by the cigar smoke.

Be sure to watch the short video

  • Photographer: Luis Alvarez 
  • Model 1: Brunette: Abigail Simon
  • Model 2: Red Hair: Amber Neumann
  • Model 3: Blonde: Jenny Winton 

The fascination of inspiration

Where does your inspiration come from, when you design hair accessoriest? 

There are 3 things I always refer to when it comes to inspiration. It's amazing how much similarity there is between crafting cigars and the creative process for hair art.

Number 1: The NATURE and their leaves in particular. Funnily enough, tobacco leaves are something I find most fascinating, not only because of the product they eventually become, but also because of the generations of legendary families that have boosted entire economies. And all because of one leaf and the respect for the same. Secondly, they are visually stunning in the beginning, middle and end phases.

Inspiration tobacco leaf.
Inspiration tobacco leaf.

Number 2: CALCULATED INTENTION. This photo was taken in Bad Ragaz. The lighting is strategically placed to cast these particular shadows on the staircase. It's only when you descend that you get to fully appreciate the detail and realize that Swiss precision is a very real thing. 

/ Inspiration
Inspiration staircase.

Number 3: CURVED SHAPES. Whether they are flowing or static, sinuous shapes amaze me. They support leading lines to guide the eye in a particular direction. The most beautiful example of this is rising smoke. There's nothing more sensual than seeing 157+ steps (that's how many steps it takes to make a cigar by hand) combine with fire to create perfectly random curves and wisps. 

Inspiration smoke.
Inspiration smoke.

The inspiration of the fashion industry

What fascinates you about this dazzling fashion industry?

Hair is to fashion what dancing is to music. You can do one without the other, but together it's the magic that happens. This industry has managed to create emotions, feelings, personalities, billions in sales with the transformation of textiles. Pretty amazing when you think about it. 

Can you remember your first job where you got to do the hair of a famous model? What was that like for you? 

It's funny growing up in Los Angeles and seeing all the stars on TV or in the movies. Then when you have the opportunity to do their hair, they become tangibly human again as soon as your hands touch the strands. But I actually felt even more awestruck when I got to work with Wendy Holdener, Mujinga Kambundji and Bianca Sissing for a campaign here in Switzerland. I feel more like a guest in this country and was grateful to have the opportunity to contribute my skillset here. 

Nicole Knobel finds inspiration in a wide variety of natural phenomena. No matter where she is, she looks closely.
Nicole Knobel finds inspiration in a wide variety of natural phenomena. No matter where she is, she looks closely.

The inspiration cigar

Your husband, Marcel Knobel, is a well-known man. He is the co-owner and creator of the cigar brand ADVentura Cigars. Do you only enjoy his cigars or do you like other brands as well? ...maybe you should be careful with the answer.... 🙂 

I enjoy our cigars very much! However, I also think it is important to try other brands to learn about flavor profiles and composition. I am a fan of ADVentura The Navigator Cadamosto, but can't get enough of The Royal Return Queen's Pearls. It's true that ADVentura is born of Swiss precision and Dominican passion. For handcrafted cigars, there is no better combination.

Hot thing
Hot stuff: Port Kopke Ruby Port and the ADV King's Gold Robusto.

What is your role at ADVentura Cigars? I believe you advised Marcel and opened the doors for him when his cigars were to come to the USA?

The best way I can sum up ADV in terms of who does what is this: Henderson Ventura is the heart, Marcel Knobel is the head and I am the arms and legs. Together, we form a brand in constant motion. My role at ADVentura is to translate our brand standards and the creators behind them into American culture by building relationships and sustainable operating systems that help with the growth of our brand, without sacrificing the core of the ADV brand. 

Having worked for a large cosmetics company and manufacturer, I have first-hand experience with production from start to finish: with timelines, distributors, communications, visuals, and building relationships with existing and potential customers. Fortunately, I've also worked extensively in almost every single state in the US, so I can relate to many of our US clients.

The Chedi Andermatt Cigar Circle
High enjoyment of ADVentura Cigars at excellent Gault Millaut Flying Diner.

The cigar industry is a very relationship-driven business. We take the time to ensure that each member of our extended team is recognized and valued for their contribution to our growth. We have great distributors around the world and brokers who believe in our mission. They believe in why we do what we do.

We do not hesitate to give them credit to share our story. First and foremost, our skill consists of the flavor profile created with the best materials we can procure. We want every person even remotely interested in cigars to know "us" when they choose ADVentura.

Mr. Olympia and the stained wardrobe

What story can you share with us that has impressed you in your profession?

I am impressed with the ability of our beauty artists how they can adapt. We shot the campaign for America's Beauty Show with the former Mr. Olympia and a beautiful model with incredible wardrobe. The competitive bodybuilders have personal spray tan artists that they use before competitions.

Nicole Knobel / America Beauty
Holy cow!

We decided to use this technique for the shoot as well. The wardrobe we had was from the late Rocky Gathercole, who designed for Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, J-Lo and Katy Perry, just to name a few. Needless to say, we had to be VERY careful with this wardrobe.

The poses we asked for this campaign had the model leaning against the Mr. Olympia, and well, the wardrobe was coated in spray paint. We worked all night with a small toothbrush, scrubbing every bead and thread of fabric to get it out.

The photos were amazing, but that was the most pre and post work of a shoot ever!!!! Whatever it takes to get the shot....

  • Body Builder: Akim Williams
  • Model: Hannah Wyatt
  • Photographer: Luis Alvarez 
  • Hairpiece: Nicole Knobel 

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