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Nicomede Talavera SS14

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.

Details… Miller’s Message

The phrase was theorised in a statistical book on the failures of children in council estate environments back in 1971,” Matthew Miller explains. Appropriated for autumn/winter 13, the slogan graces a ribbed jersey crew neck (available at Other and Peggs & son) and feels particularly apt on North London Derby Day. Wrapped up in a red and white scarf and enveloped by nerves, this fan and jumper wait in hope.


We have known each other for a number of years and have been working together for the past four,” Saif Bakir reminds us as he talks through the continued evolution of COMMON. Having met in the classrooms of LCF, a fruitful friendship between Bakir and Emma Hedlund has harvested a dynamic label that celebrates contractions, delights in dualism and cherishes clashes. “Our design process is very much integrated. On many occasions we end up thinking about the same thing or draw reference from same source of inspiration. It could be because we know each other so well or also because we both know what Common’s aesthetic is all about,” he adds. Whether it’s well tailored telepathy or just plain COMMON sense, the merged minds of Bakir and Hedlund create designs that are beautifully balanced, bouncing between minimal and maximal, tailored and casual, simple and complex. “A fusion of London edge, Paris chic and Scandinavian minimalism,’ is how the pair themselves describe the heady cocktail. Drink up.

Very few debut collections cause such a well deserved flutter as COMMON’S did for autumn/winter 12. Without doubt, the Lars Jonsson collaborative sparrow print exquisitely applied to bomber jackets set pulses soaring but it was the their mix of design cultures and desire to showcase local manufacture and craftsmanship that really captured our imagination. From this accomplished debut, the princely pair have pushed forward with a trio of collections that continue their narrative. “We want our collections to be able to sit together as one,” adds Bakir. Their story is one under constant development and refinement and spring/summer 14 is the latest chapter to captivate. Entitled Let The Games Begin, the collection introduces us to a vibrant squad of athletic daydreamers clad in a hyper modern team uniform.

Unlike our previous collection, we wanted to create something that felt lighter and brighter, we were influenced by an active season and lifestyle. We looked at friends and colleagues around us and we were inspired by their active way of life. We then looked into sports and drew inspiration from American sportswear and youth culture. We loved the idea of creating our own team colour and uniform.
Our mood board was based around Rubins colour pallet mixed with images from Luke Smalley body of work including Gymnasium and Sunday Drive.  We took note from Smalley’s colour palette in Sunday Drive in particular. There were clippings from reference fabrics; perforated fabrics, Lightweight tech cotton, Mesh, Loop back Terry, Bonded neoprene, Boiled wool. Trims like heat seal tapes, press studs, water repellent zippers. During our design process we looked at textiles and techniques used in technical sportswear. We wanted to create the same effect and utilise some of the benefits these high-tech material. We also looked at different finishes in garments such as heat-sealed seams which we applied in a more decorative way making it part of the aesthetic of the garment as seen on our taped seam trouser Jurg…”

SS14 Mood (1)
“From looking into youth culture and American sports we then into street art and current artists. We stumbled upon some of Rubin’s work and we were immediately drawn to its modern, futuristic and abstract shape and style, it felt so right and perfect for want we wanted our SS14 collection to communicate. As Rubin is based in Brooklyn, NY we started off by sending him an email and he showed immediate interest in a collaboration. There was a constant exchange of mood boards and ideas during the following weeks. We sent him a colour pallet to work from but he had free reign to sketch and create two walls for us, which we later reworked into the current print.”


“The highlight colours were then picked up from Rubin’s signature use of pop colours. The result is a mix palette of muted, saturated colours of chalk white, cream, bronze and matt black combined with highlight of bright orange, azure and chroma green. We combined Rubin’s artwork with this season’s colours and stripes. The outcome is a futuristic print for a hyper modern team uniform. Rubin’s complex and futuristic shapes works perfectly with this seasons theme and mood and are a great complement to the modern and technical fabrics featured throughout the collection.”

Ultimately, it’s the label’s real sense of collaboration in COMMON, both between the dynamic between the design duo themselves, their relationships with Swedish manufacturers and creative talent that they work with each season that really excites. From the Lars Jonsson collaborative sparrow print to Hans Krondahl’s reimagined gallop design a creative coming together has pushed the label forward. For spring/summer 14 Common shines an abstract spotlight on street artist Rubin. Now, his majestic murals surface regularly in NYC on the streets of Brooklyn and the Bronx but his journey began in Gothenburg. Inspired by Beat Street, the concrete projects of Sweden were his first canvas and his latest are COMMOM’s uniforms.

Throughout Let The Games Begin, Hedlund and Bakir balance their modern, sartorial elegance with sportswear fused and and technical focused elements. Muted minimalism is matched with vibrancy, simple lines with complex geometric shapes. Delve deeper into this season’s duality with the Patrick Lindblom shot look book (just previewed on Highsnobiety)…

SS14 Sketches



Look book shot by Patrick Lindblom courtesy of Highsnobiety

Collecting fans and players along the journey, this COMMON collection will continue to drive this enthralling label forward. Let the real games begin…


Peach Blown Vase, 1886, Hobbs, Brockunier & Co.
Peach Blown Vase, 1886, Hobbs, Brockunier & Co.

Oh ceramics! Smashing!


Although I have to say I’m a little surprised you are starting this column new themes in contemporary art column with ceramics.

Oh really?

Yes! I was expecting Internet stuff. Fluorescent GIFs and Vine videos. Slimy animations of gunge? Gradients!

No, none of that. Well, not for the moment anyway.

Okay.  Let’s hear it then. What is so contemporary about ceramics?

Well, several artist…

Peach Blown Vase, 1886, Hobbs, Brockunier & Co.