If you ask us how the interview ended on Nicomede‘s balcony, in between the lines of ‘incest mutants’ and ‘e-cigarettes’, we could try and blame it on an obscure fashion movement, but no, it’s probably just some scrambled, distracted brains for you. We visited Nicomede in his Galliano-shelved, Claire Robertson-photo-scattered studio, where the radio played ‘move, move your waistline,’ and the designer sat down to eat a sandwich and drink a can of Diet coke. A very laidback man indeed, just like the clothes he makes.
Why did you decide to do your MA at Central Saint Martins?
When I was thinking about doing an MA, I had always set my heart on RCA [ed.: Royal College of Art]. But, I had been at CSM so long that I became attached to it. When I saw what RCA was doing, I thought, ‘that’s not really the route I wanna go.’ They’re really experimental. It’s a completely different way of teaching as well, and they have a lot of industry projects. On the MA (at Central Saint Martins), I think we had two, and they were really focused on our pre-collections and MA collections. I got a scholarship to do the MA at Saint Martins, and it was a great opportunity, so I just went for it. When I think about the MA now, it was a tough process, but I don’t regret anything. The BA was great, you had that freedom to do what you want, but the MA was really about just selling yourself and refining your ideas.
The main reason I do menswear is because I connect to it straightaway. I wear menswear; I touch it, I know the fit. With womenswear… well, I don’t go around in a dress. I don’t know the ergonomics for womenswear.
Do you wear the things you design yourself?
Well, not so much. When I think of wearing my clothing, it feels so much of an extension of myself. You design, you pattern-cut, you think about the trims. I think about the product for somebody who’s going to enjoy wearing it. I really enjoy designing for people. I went through a mentoring scheme here in London where they encouraged you to wear your own clothes and promote yourself to get people to believe in your product. I agree 100 percent with it, but I just wear a more pulled-back version of it.
What’s up with the pastels in your clothes? It’s kind of a shift away from the dark basics.
Have you heard of this book called Exactitudes?
Oh with the guys who all dress the same?
Yeah, there are all these guys in sports jackets, with the most amazing color palettes. All these eighties sports jackets – remember they used to be really tacky – had all these hints of pastels in them. There was this one jacket which was white, black and had this dirty yellow, and that’s where I took it from. It’s odd but it works so well.
So, sleevelessness, what do you think about that in relation with masculinity?
Err, sleeveless to me, I actually find it quite sexy. There’s something about wearing a sleeveless white jersey that I find quite appealing. It’s showing more skin than a man would normally be showing. It’s about showing masculinity through something so simple.
It’s seen as something so feminine, but now you actually see the muscles of the man…
Yeah, unless you’re like Janet Jackson or Madonna with muscular arms.
Back in the MA days, well I didn’t… make more effort, but I did wear nicer clothes than I do today. Now I’m so comfortable in them. It’s not about dressing well, but I enjoyed wearing designers such as Comme [des Garçons] and Jil [Sander], now I’m like: Primark t-shirt, Cheap Monday jeans and Vans. Back then, I remember she was like ‘you know what’s cool in clothing, so reflect that in yourself and in your work’. Some people say it’s futuristic, but I’m not trying to be futuristic. What is futuristic? SS15 is futuristic, I mean, I’m thinking 9 months ahead. I’m not trying to do Star Trek or stuff for people who are going to the moon or whatever, I just want to do cool clothing.
In what kind of movie would you see your stuff?
Somebody recently said this to me, because I had the flares and the shearling fur-bit: Anchorman. But that was just a joke. These slim fitted trousers with flare at the bottom, it was so seventies.
What’s specifically tough about studying fashion design?
People usually think: “I can buy some cheap fabric and do something amazing with it,” but in the end you have to buy all the paper, travel around London, eat, rent a studio, do production… It does cost a lot, so you gotta be really strategic and know how to spend your money.
And be passionate…
And passionate! Passion for fashion! [burst out in laughter]
What’s up next?
I’m really excited for the coming season. The first season I did a lookbook; the second a presentation, so I feel like we’re ready to do a show. I’ve got a lot of ideas about where I want the direction of the brand to go. I don’t want to pinpoint it though. I don’t want to say ‘I’m a sportswear designer’ or ‘I’m a tailor’. Because then they judge you on how good that certain thing is. We’ve got elements of tailoring, but then it looks quite sporty with the backpacks, and then I have references of oversized t-shirts. It has a certain playfulness.
It’s going really fast but I want to take baby steps – I want the brand to grow naturally. I have never been forceful with my work and I just want to see what happens. In the end, it is a business and it has to survive, but yeah, I guess it’s going pretty fast. Last season was a really natural thing, we took elements that we didn’t use for the previous season and used it for this collection. It was all a natural progression. But, for this season, I’m ready to do something continuous. Everything stemmed from my MA collection – up until this season – and now I’m trying to see things differently.
It’s nice you’re not doing something shockingly different from the previous collection.
When you look at Prada and Christopher Kane…Christopher Kane is doing something completely different every season, but you can still say ‘that is Christopher Kane’. That’s how I want to progress. ‘Oh that’s Nicomede.’ I don’t want to be like, season after season it will be the same and that’s all I’ve got to offer.