[quote ]“I had a little break, I partied a lot and pushed myself to the absolute limit, but then it got to the point where we all said, ‘what are we doing with our lives now…?’”[/quote]

Wise words, following the success of Nicomede Talavera’s MA collection, which debuted on the LFW runway last February. Just what is Talavera doing with his life now then, post Somerset House, and those 18 months of intense work under the watchful gaze of Louise Wilson?

Slightly off the beaten track in Bermondsey, tucked away just past the station is where Nicomede has found himself in a new studio space, hidden away in an old biscuit building, full to the rafters of burgeoning talent. (We should know, getting lost on the way up and coming across an interesting duo spray painting a papier mâché tree gold). “I’ve been here since June. I was in here with just a car boot painting table, my work stuck on the wall, thinking, ‘oh shit, I need to get stuff, I need to sort myself out’.”

Now, his studio, emblazoned with his own name and a call buzzer, is packed full of samples and illustrations, his trusty Ellsworth Kelly book and most excitingly, his finished SS14 line, the first since leaving Central Saint Martins.

The graphic designer Ellsworth Kelly, whose linear artworks played such a pivotal role in his debut line, has continued to prove an invaluable source of inspiration. “I’ve always been fascinated with lines, it’s really weird, I see lines everywhere I go. Kelly is all about seeing what surrounds you and extracting that into a fantasy world. But it’s still very much grounded in reality.” Suddenly it’s clear why Nicomede feels so at home in his new studio, surrounded by long corridors, sash windows and scaling stairwells. Lines. Everywhere.

It’s not hard therefore to see how he finds inspiration in the everyday. “The idea for this collection came from the businessmen of canary wharf. I see them coming here, as I live just down by the river in Rotherhithe. I saw one guy with a pinstripe suit, he was young, and was wearing sports trainers and a Jansport backpack. I thought to myself, that’s style there; that’s cool and it’s relevant. That’s what I extracted into the collection. I ended up with all this…”

The collection itself is just that. An intriguing clash of contemporary sportswear elements and classic tailoring, obviously with a colorful peppering of Kelly-inspired line work thrown in. Wide legged trousers with zipper pockets, paneled vest tops in stripped colours and most notably, a set of oversized black sheer shirts which sit as the top layer, with strips of wax-red and royal purple lacquered on top.

“With these sheer shirts I wanted it to feel effortless, and I feel sheer fabric has a sexiness, and effortlessness about it. The shape was originally from my MA portfolio. I had these Muslim boys with massive sized shirts, on top of dresses, with a puffa jacket. It was about taking those ideas and fusing them with my new work. I always want it to be super refined and in a tailored classic way. I’m not that type of designer, personally, that likes tweed fabrics. I do believe in heritage, but- especially in menswear today- you want to be a forward thinker, you want the future. That’s why I don’t really look at what’s going on behind me, its more about looking at what’s around me and pushing that forward.”

Pulling out a clean-lined jacket, Talavera exclaims, “This is a coated leather jacket. What I love about this fabric is that I know in time, it will wear away and it will have that heritage feel about it, like it’s been worn over time, exactly like corduroy; it relaxes, it distresses. This was a new fabric for me, a new way of achieving heritage in my work”.

It’s not just this attention to story telling that enforces Nicomede’s growing recognition in the industry. It’s no secret that he’s a frequent collaborator with backpack giant, Eastpak, after forging a relationship with them for his BA collection, his designs were later picked up by fashion heavyweights Oki-Ni and Selfridges. “It was around Christmas time and I remember going to see it, sat next to a white Margiela bag and an Alexander Wang, and I thought it was crazy.” It’s great to see the relationship continue in SS14, with the Eastpak bag reinvented by him again, this time in full leather, giving it a luxe yet youthful feel. A tote and bum bag have also been added, a nod to the development of those bag-carrying businessmen of canary wharf.

A long, noticeable silver zipper also hangs off both the bags and the leather jacket, the latest jewel in the Talavera crown. “I collaborated with Lampo, a leading luxury hard-wearing zipper company and designed my own pull up, inspired by architect Tony Smith. I don’t mean to diss the standard YKK zip but I see it everywhere; all the same zips everywhere, from high street to luxury. I think moving forward we need to think about a hard-wearing finish, so our work con be projected into the future.

What then for the future? “I hope to continue those relationships moving forward with AW13”, of which, samples have already begun to spring up on the walls of the studio. For a designer so obsessed with lines, it’s great that within each of his own, he continues to evolve those ideas rooted at the start of his design life, back at Central Saint Martins.




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