Madeleine Cohen

Coolstuff Team
February 23, 2024

Meet Madeleine, founder of petite-girl clothing brand, Nelle Atelier. Madeleine set out to fill a gap in the market: jeans for 5’4” and under women (that you don’t need to get hemmed). She’s now on a mission with Nelle Atelier to reinvent the petite section for the modern shopper. We caught up with Madeleine to hear how she got her start and what inspires her work.

What led you to start your brand: Nelle Atelier—a staples brand for women 5'4 and under?

I was standing in front of my closet trying to get dressed wondering why I didn’t like any of my jeans. I figured maybe I should start shopping for petite denim to see if that would help. I went online and googled “best jeans for short girls.” Everything felt like an afterthought at best, or oddly diminutive at worst. There wasn’t a brand that fit in with the rest of my wardrobe – but with a shorter inseam and the right knee and hip placement.

Do you have a favorite style of jean that Nelle sells? 

I love the Lea, I feel like she is a workhorse - I can wear her during the day as much as out to dinner or drinks. I have to be honest though, I am even more excited about what is launching in April. Stay tuned.

What’s the best part about the New York creative community? 

I’m from New York and since launching Nelle have split my time in LA (where Nelle is produced) and NY. We talk a lot about how everyone knows someone who can do something for you - this business has been built on that kind of enthusiasm. It’s really unique to NYC.

Right: Katherine Lewin of Big Night and Anna B. Albury of

Can you share with us the best alterations spot in NYC (when 5'4" and under folks aren't shopping at Nelle)?

We recently did an event at Eva Joan and they are true masters of their craft when it comes to all things alterations and embellishments. There is a tailor on Allen and Rivington that I’ve been going to for years. For really special pieces I usually go to Alteration Specialists on Lafayette in Soho. 

Are there any fashion designers that inspire your work?

I don’t have a fashion design background - I’m an operator and have been working as a brand builder my entire career. Nelle Atelier was about filling a gaping hole in the market for myself and others in an aspirational and fashion forward way. I’m inspired by the savvy of Nell Diamond of Hill House Home and I love the work of Chloe Harrouche of Loulou Studio. She makes the most gorgeous and timeless pieces.

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