Ten Meets Nicomede Talavera, The London-Based Designer Coming Back With A New Vision
There’s no feeling that matches the excitement of discovering an emerging designer, a name you haven’t heard before but whose talent blows you away. What once happened only rarely – through graduate shows, or by randomly seeing people’s work in action whilst tottering wasted in a basement of a club – now happens at a much faster pace. Only a quick search through Instagram reveals tens, hundreds, even thousands of creatives just waiting to be discovered and get a shot at making it. Only a small percentage of them is chosen by the industry and gets the deserved spotlight. That doesn’t mean the others aren’t worthy though, but it’s all about timing. The hype of being young and emerging can only last for a short while, and it’s up to what you do with those five minutes of fame that sets apart the cool kids from the talented designers. Some will join the likes of Kim Jones and Martine Rose, others won’t. But what happens when the hype fades? For many designers, the solution is to take a breather. Put their namesake brand on hiatus, get a job at a design house or just completely change what they do. Pottery workshops? Farming? Running away with the wolves? The pressure of success and maintaining the attention is just too much for some, and that’s totally fine. While it’s not (always) about life and death, the fashion industry is a high-pressure environment that doesn’t always appreciate its talent.
The victims of the system are plenty, and a look back to just a few years ago reveals stellar collections by names that aren’t on this season’s fashion week schedule. Nicomede Talavera is one of those people. The Londoner (born and bred) was one of the hottest names on the menswear scene back in 2015 when he, out of personal reasons, made a decision to take a step back from his namesake label and go on a sabbatical. Talavera had graduated from a BA degree in fashion at Central Saint Martins and was part of the men’s Fashion East (then known as MAN) lineup, along with Bobby Abley and Liam Hodges. As his stellar collections came out, he quickly became stocked with some pretty impressive retailers – Dover Street Market jumped on board, so did LN-CC, Selfridges and Opening Ceremony, as well as many others. “Everything moved so quickly and I had incredible industry, press and buyers support but I felt rushed and was wearing so many hats. The business was growing quicker than anticipated and I didn’t have time to be creative and plan my label’s aesthetic and growth in a strategic way,” Talavera tells us today, as he prepares for his official comeback. Now under the title of just his first name, he is bringing back the playful ideas of menswear the world fell in love with the first time round. But instead of trying to ride the wave, he’s working at his own pace, developing high-quality product that’s also beautiful to look at.
Instead of a spot on the London Fashion Week, Talavera decided to present his comeback collection in the form of a lookbook, focusing on a product and the garment, rather than a styled catwalk look. “My attention to detail, fit and execution has evolved greatly and I feel that I have pushed my choices of fabrication and silhouette.” And it totally shows. Each item could be taken away from the full looks (as styled by our Senior Fashion Editor-at-Large Harry Lambert) and introduced to a base wardrobe of men’s staples. That’s not to think any of these pieces are ordinary. A dedication to perfection makes it clear we aren’t looking at just another emerging designer with great ideas. This is the work of a creative brain supported by skill and craft.
The first Nicomede outing is titled Episode 1, avoiding the idea of seasons or collections aligning with timing, just another example of designers finding alternatives to presenting their work. “The back bone of a lot of my inspiration is a film list that Louise Wilson gave us for when we had creative blocks. The original print-out, which is now worn and covered in scribbles, is firmly on my wall. I love Kennith Anger’s work, such as Gummo and Koyaanisqatsi,” Talavera tells us of his inspirations for the new beginning. Creating an evolving wardrobe for the contemporary man, individual pieces present product categories we know in a way they haven’t been seen before. Pleats, collars, straps and unexpected textiles add to this freshness, while streamlined silhouettes ground the story in reality. There’s no need to imagine an occasion or put on a character in order to wear Nicomede. Even the most outrageous of the pieces – like the faux tiger culottes – could be imagined on a skater boy, worn with a ripped white tee and some half-torn Vans.
Going forward, Talavera has plans on launching biannual capsule collections which will be shown through a lookbook and a campaign during the seasonal show calendar. Working with the same creative team, the designer hopes to steadily shape the brand’s universe and embody everything Nicomede stands for. Collaborations are also a big part of the story – Ekaterina Pronina worked on the toy-like jewellery while Fiona Blakeman helped out with all the prints. “I will also be partnering with brands to re-imagine menswear classics which will launch outside of the seasonal windows and deliver in stores during the most weather-appropriate times,” Talavera explains. The mainline collection won’t be available until October when it launches with Machine-A in London and Holt Renfrew. But before then, a tight 7-piece line of classics titled Nicomede.Uniform will be available from Selfridges and H. Lorenzo.
Pacing himself he might be, but there’s still pressure every designer has to face when showing their work to the world. What is different for Talavera this time round? “I have taught myself to be more mindful and to apply that to my schedule and ways of working, As well as having more fun, keep smiling and enjoy what I love to do.” A positive attitude and great clothes – what more could you want?
Photographs by Gwen Trannoy.