Interview with Creative Director Saul Nash
Interviewer - Keisha Asamoah
If the word multidisciplinary had a physical form, it’d be Saul Nash. The North East Londoner seamlessly combines fashion, dance, and performance to create an experience - we are drawn into his world where his designing and choreographing talents shine. Founded in 2018 his eponymous British label blurs the lines between luxury menswear and athleticwear, designing contemporary technical garments made to aid the freedom and movement of the body whilst still fashionably dressing it. 2021 London Fashion Week marked his solo runway debut after two seasons of utilising the form of film to showcase his designs and explore the key messages of identity, masculinity, sexuality, freedom and community. Through his SS22 collection Fragments, community was explored once more, alongside nostalgia; Nash adapted the form of the school uniform into a school inspired collection made as an ode to his fragmented memories of North London school life and fashion of the time.
With community being so key to the brand’s ethos, his residency at Somerset House Studios fits perfectly; for 5 years, Somerset House Studios has worked as a home for creatives, giving them the space to thrive and showcase their groundbreaking work. For its 5th birthday on the 14th of October, SHS opens its doors for its annual AGM to celebrate the return of community where Saul Nash presents an exciting new live performance, movement piece soundtracked by musician and multi-instrumentalist, cktrl.
We spoke to Saul Nash to find out more about his new performance and SS22 collection.
You opened London Fashion Week with your debut solo runway show which is amazing. How did it feel to not only go back to physical fashion shows after so long but open London Fashion Week?
It was an incredible opportunity and also very exciting. I love creating films and appreciate the power it has to create a world around my work. However, I have always believed live performance provides a moment of meditation in its own way and I really appreciated being able to create a live experience again.
For the last two seasons, you focused on creating fashion films, was this a big departure from your usual use of theatre and dance on the runways or was the experience quite similar?
I really enjoyed having the ability to move between the two. I think the two are similar but serve different purposes. I really enjoyed the ability film has to create a world around the season but also love the fact that the live show happens in the moment and captivates the audience who sees it.
From the way you present your clothes to the way you design them, performance, movement and functionality are so important. Is that directly tied to your dance background?
Yes but also how I want to feel in clothing. Also, the symbolism of freedom is very important to me. I enjoy wearing clothing that liberates and empowers me
Freedom and liberation is so key to your brand. In what ways is this and any other messages explored with this new movement piece?
I think the idea of bringing a community of people that I admire together and having the freedom to explore the very passion that we all share for me is key. Freedom and liberation and the ability to challenge expectations are also essential. I am extremely interested in identity and the way in which it can shape perception.
What inspired you to make and premiere a completely new performance piece so soon after LFW?
My movement practice is something that collides but also works parallel to the brand, Have the ability to explore movement further is important to me and as a resident at Somerset House Studios it felt like a great benchmark to display this practice publically.
Let's talk more about your recent SS22 collection. What was the inspiration for this collection and its name ‘Fragments’? As you are from North London, Fragments highlighted a very London-centric school experience from the accessories to the use of a bus stop during the LFW show. How did you choose which pieces of London school life to feature to represent that shared experience and community vibe?
I think all of the pieces in the show were particularly tied to what we wore at school, What excited me was the freedom to adapt them within the language of the brand and reimagine them in a way that almost makes them desirable as stand-alone pieces to the people who may have worn them when they were at school. We wore ‘Just Do It’ bags even though we knew our books didn't fit.
This collection actually featured your first piece of womenswear. You’ve mentioned elsewhere that your brand ethos centres male liberation, expression and complexity. What was the process of transforming this into womenswear?
My best friend who went to my school was featured in the show. For me, if I was gonna design a womenswear look it had to be for a woman that was close to me as I wanted to gain an understanding of the best way to make something that she felt elevated in and also made her feel confident wearing it.
Do you see yourself continuing on with womenswear in the future?
Most definitely but I think that it will come every now and again as for me it opens up a new portal for expression within my work and with my work being able to be worn by people of all genders I think that it proposes a new element of liberation in the sense that everyone is welcome to wear my clothing.
Mixing menswear with athletic wear, is it hard to walk the line between ‘typical’ luxury fashion and athletic wear? Do you tend to lean more towards one than the other?
I think that sportswear has always been the main focus of the brand. The move to explore shirts and trousers also came out of the idea of questioning what saul nash looks like in all contexts. You can dress a shirt up or down depending on what it is you are doing that day.
Speaking of mixing, what was it like mixing the idea of school uniforms with sportswear? Since the school uniform is quite restrictive and your clothing isn’t, how did you marry these two elements?
I guess fabrication still enables space for freedom, I think that clothing can be fitted but not necessarily restrictive and for me, that is exciting to explore through the discovery of new Materials within my work.
Lastly, what can we expect from you in the future? Is there any specific direction you're looking to go in for your next collection?
There is so much that I would like to do. For the near future, I am working toward AW22 all will be revealed in the coming months.