WORDS BY ROZALINA BURKOVA — I was asked to interview Nicomede Talavera because of my history as one of his devoted helpers on his MA collection. It was as interesting for me as anyone else to hear what Nic has been up to in the last two years since he graduated – a Google search was showing pretty exciting results. In latest news, after two seasons with Fashion East and one as an official London Collections: Men designer, when we met Nic had just won a two-year mentoring scheme by CFE (Centre for Fashion Enterprise) that provided him with a studio space and valuable business advice.
“I always ask myself, would you wear this and if not, why are you designing it?”
I remember when we worked in your home studio, l’d bring you lots of art books you asked for from LCC (because they have a richer library) and you’d cook me some duck pancakes and we would crack on with textile development over a good chat. Is it all different now? What has changed since the MA days? How has your process changed, and how do your ideas develop now?
[Laughs] You know me! I love a good chat, that hasn’t changed and the process has stayed with me. I feel, in time, it’s natural to be curious with your own aesthetic and there was a real learning process of research and development and fantasising about the possibilities. I will continue to use what I’ve learnt from the course and especially Louise Wilson, but since I started doing consecutive collections my ideas usually stem from the last collection. Half way through designing and making I’d instinctively get interested in something and that would stay with me as a new starting point. For example, with SS15 – the gingham collection, the season before I was sitting at a café and the tabletop was gingham and I loved it and it got me thinking in that direction. Usually I’d have four or five options of how it can go and then I start thinking in terms of fabric. I believe fabric is more important than anything, especially in menswear – it defines fit and feeling.
“Young designers often try to cram in a thousand ideas when there is just about one idea that is genius and it can easily get diluted.”
What about those “Sucker” jumpers from your last collection then? How did those come about?
You know, normally I never use slogans but I was at a club and this ’95 track by O.T. Quarter came on called Hold That Sucker Down. It really transported me back to my youth, growing up in London.
Yes, you often look for inspiration in your South London teenage years, don’t you?
That comes naturally to me but it’s also another lesson I learned from Louise. She would always say you’ve got to stop looking in the library and just go out. Your surroundings and history should be your library.
This reminds me of a recent interview by the trend forecast giant Lidewij Edelkoort, who said that fashion is dead in the sense that it has become so detached from reality and that now is the time for real clothes that people can relate to.
Absolutely. I always ask myself, would you wear this and if not, why are you designing it?
What’s the most important lesson for you to pass on to your interns?
Well, I learn from them as well. We are a team, like a family, and everyone interprets each other’s ideas – but a key thing I have learned is to always go straight to the point and to follow your instinct. It’s great to have a thousand ideas but you have to edit down to what the strongest one is straight away because you don’t have the time to develop everything. So now, I go straight to my gut feeling and then leave another one for later. It saves you so much time. Young designers often try to cram in a thousand ideas when there is just about one idea that is genius and it can easily get diluted.
Film: Kirill Kuletski
Editing by Edgars Olsevskis Roberts Kravecs at Black Storm Films
Casting: Jonathan Johnson
This article originally appears in 1 Granary Issue 3.