“As this is my first full season I wanted to move on from the Masters, to push myself and demonstrate just what I can do
,” Nicomede Talavera
excitedly explains as we’re both enveloped by the sculptural shake-up of the senses that is his spring/summer 14 collection. Confidently striding out from the Central Saint Martins
classroom, beyond the realms of Louise Wilson’s omnipotence and the far-reaching ripples of applause that his graduate collection received, we meet a young designer ready to step onto a larger stage. Having watched him develop over the last four years, documenting his progression from eager second year design student to a fully realised label, he feels both familiar and forcibly fresh.
“I’m proud of my MA collection but I do feel as though I could have injected more personality into it
,” he confesses. Moving on from a measured masterpiece of monochrome modernity that teased with its textural treats and proportion play we now see the blossoming talent delighting in the juxtaposition of the everyday, tailoring, abstract graphics and minimalist colour blocking. Free to produce precisely what he wants, on his own terms, Talavera
has a grin from ear to ear because this collection is him. He has grown into his talent.
“As soon as I finished my MA at Central Saint Martins, I was exhausted and felt that I needed a break but a few weeks later I realised that I had worked so hard to build something, really enjoy designing and wanted to see what could happen with the label,” he confesses as we sip instant coffee in his Bermondsey base. As he turned the page on one enthralling chapter, spring/summer 14 marks the beginning of the next. There’s an undeniable promise that blank pages will be filled with all manner of exciting narrative in the coming seasons and beyond. However, like everything step he’s taken previously, Talavera approached the latest leap correctly. When it is all too easy to be swept away in an ocean of excitement, this young talent paused and took stock of everything before diving into the inviting waters of possibility. “One of the first things I did was write a business plan, it was so beneficial to place my label in the market place and work out just where I wanted it to be.” Having visualised the future of his eponymous label, Talavera is now carefully crafting it by taking elements from his accomplished BA and MA collections, pushing them further and taking them in entirely different directions.
“I developed my previous research of Ellsworth Kelly whilst extracting fresh elements and at the same time I became fascinated by the business men of Canary Wharf, seeing them on the tube in their pinstripe suits, trainers and a backpack. I wanted to take the tailoring and sportswear influences of the modern man and it all worked back to Kelly and his own fascination with everyday landscape. I too began to see these squares,
” he explains. The result sees him transform a canvas of sheer nylon oversized t-shirts and sleeveless tops with appliquéd leather graphic elements alongside re-imagined superfine suiting fabrics. Thankfully the sartorial awkwardness of crisp tailoring mixed with gym kits is waved away by the expert hands of Talavera. Flimsy synthetic gym bags morph into luxurious objects of desire as the designer continues his fruitful collaboration with Eastpak
and dull, tired, bedraggled commuter chic comes to life and reverberates with youthful energy. This is the designer applying his filter over everyday sights, just like Kelly did.
“I like to work from things that I see, whether they’re man-made or natural or a combination of the two… The things that I’m interested in have always been there. The idea of a shadow and a natural object has existed, like the shadow of the pyramids, or a rock and its shadow; I’m not interested in the texture of the rock, or that it is a rock, but in the mass of it, and its shadows
,” Ellsworth Kelly confided to Henry Geldzahler in 1964 in a piece for Art International 1
. Surrounded by walls of Talavera product, the influence of the painter, sculptor and printmaker is plain to see. His rails mirror the artist’s masterly interplay of form, colour, and space. Moved by shapes he found in reality, Kelly’s perception is inspired by an object’s external characteristics, taking interest in shadows and the texture of surfaces isolated from their contexts. Talavera’s eyes were similarly searching. “For me, inspiration will always come from what I see around me. It has to be grounded in reality. I’m drawn to subcultures, youth movements and ultimately street wear.” Nicomede Talavera
had explained in our last meeting. Having previously looked to the sartorial sights and cultural diversity of his childhood home of Hounslow he now looks to the commuting rat racers. A true mixologist of menswear, Talevera balances tailoring with sportswear and artistic form with function. Take a gulp.
Detail photography alongside Nicomede Talavera’s Andy Malone shot spring/summer 14 look book
From coated nappa leather cracking delicately to textural pinstriped suiting reinterpreted as long sleeved tailored tops and unexpected silk cargo pockets, the collection is rich in tactile treasure. Each piece has a sculptural quality. Everything has been masterfully realised by the creator’s hand. Even the zips, so often uniform and ubiquitous are anything but here. “I contacted Lampo
, a luxury zip maker, because they sponsored my BA collection and they expressed an interest in working together on an exclusive zip which was amazing. I looked to the work of Robert Morris because I’ve always been drawn to his square work, it was layering and de-layering, simplifying yet bold,
” he animatedly explains whilst thumbing a puller. They provide the perfect functional finish to the outerwear and collaborative Eastpak
accessories. Each and every detail has been carefully considered.
Looking through the Andy Malone shot look book alongside my own detail shots once again and having inspected the quality of the garments first hand, it is remarkable that this is Nicomede Talavera’s first full collection. There’s no limit to how far this talent can go. As ever, his own Van clad feet are fixed firmly to the ground. “I’m looking to grow the label naturally, not to force it in the market before we’re ready. For this season, we’re hoping to secure two exclusive clothing stockists, one London based and one in Asia,” he declares. I’m in no doubt that he’ll do that and more.