When Clash meets Nasir Mazhar, in the bright and breezy surroundings of the Red Bull Studios near London Bridge, there is just a month to go before the designer closes London Collections: Men SS15 with his third menswear catwalk show; not that he’s phased.
“I haven’t even seen a toile yet,” he tells us. “I haven’t seen anything to be honest; to be completely honest I haven’t seen a single item from the collection. All the toiles are waiting, they’re in a box waiting to be looked at.”
Our short conversation will be filled with similar sentence structures, wherein the east London designer speaks then repeats the sentence with some elaboration. In the broadest of terms it could be a metaphor for his collections, though the physical garments are elaborated somewhat further, the aesthetic always ties in with what’s gone before.
“So I don’t know how it’s going yet,” he offers, “but the music’s going well, the after show party’s going well.” The after show party – following tomorrow’s fashion week finale – is of the upmost importance to Mazhar.
Being held at the Metropolis strip club on Cambridge Heath Road, he informs Clash: “Obviously with a catwalk, no one lives on a catwalk and it’s really bizarre to see everybody just walking up and down the catwalk, it’s not really real, so ideally (this) is for people to experience the collection, to be able to see it and touch it and feel it themselves.”
He continues, “Not just touch it, but experience it in an environment where it is kind of intended to be, rather than a catwalk which is completely unreal. So hopefully yeah, people will come to the club and be like ‘wow, sick man’; you want people to leave being like ‘wow’, like you’re not going to get this anywhere else. It’s only Nasir, Skepta and Red Bull who could put together something like that.”
It’s Mazhar’s collaboration with Skepta that welcomes Clash to south London. Now a tradition of sorts (read about previous partnerships here), Red Bull Catwalk Studio has paired the two to create a track (available tomorrow), while together they’ve also produced the show’s soundtrack and Skepta’s provided thoughts on the clothes.
So why Skepta? “Umm, ‘cause he’s a legend. He is a legend for one, and then when I heard ‘High Street’, (the Blood Orange track which features the grime artist), that song is really really special to me, and it’s just a really amazing song.”
His first time working with a musician – a career path he’d like to one day try, time constraints willing – the experience he says, has inspired him greatly.
“To be able to work with Skepta, who’s a professional and someone who cares so much about it, like, I’ve never worked on sound with anyone. We’re looking at every step of the sound, every second of the sound. From the seating to the intro, to the beginning of the show, and to the middle to the end and the after party as well. It’s the first time we’ve really been able to concentrate on that, try to develop the sound that evokes whatever we are trying to evoke. I feel really privileged actually.”
Red Bull’s help he adds, is something else: “They’re not pushing you, they get it, they totally get it. They trust my vision you know, like what I’m trying to do. All they want to do is make it happen; that’s the dream.”
“It was a hat that I first saw of Nasir’s,” Skepta offers for his part, “when I was in Machine-A years ago. I was like that hat – I’m always looking for new hats, I wear hats a lot innit – and I saw it and I thought yeah that’s sick, like that hat’s sick.”
Though the pair only had two days in the recording studio, they met beforehand and as Nasir tells it, talked the kind of talk kindred souls might; “We met at six and we stayed here till two in the morning, just talking about is there a concept, what is the feeling, what is the emotion, what is the idea, what is the aesthetic, what is the collection about, what is the sound about and what are you trying to say, what are you trying to do. We spoke for a long time, a long long time; he knows about me, I understand and know about him.”
Similarly, while describing his favourite kind of fashion, Skepta paints the picture Nasir’s sideline posse create at each show (described when Clash met Mazhar in February, here). “When people just make sh*t for their friends or whatever, like really in-house, I like it because I can feel the love from it. I just love when someone’s really in an unorthodox manner with his or her artistry but people understand.”
He concludes, “I’ve always wanted to design for Moschino all my life, but doing it with Nasir, that to me is as natural and organic as it could have ever been with anyone else. I can’t think of another that I’d want to collaborate with.”
Words: Zoe Whitfield