In the past three years, we have watched Saul Nash being named LVMH Prize semi-finalist, become a NEWGEN recipient as well as a finalist for the International Woolmark Prize 2022. Designed with the liberation of movement in mind, his connection between dance and fashion doesn’t go unnoticed. Nash studied Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins and an MA in Menswear at the Royal College of Art, graduating in 2018.
North East London born Nash, expresses his personal experiences through each collection – representing the cultural and societal landscape he grew up in. For AW22, Nash explores British Afro-Caribbean culture with his ‘RITUAL’ collection. The performance was set in a barbershop, a space often doubling up as a safe space within London communities where they meet up and express personal identity. The designer showcased his collection through dance on the barbershop floor, giving off a natural London community alliance. This alliance was evident, not only through the collection worn but also through the choreography – which gave a sense of belonging. You might not always associate this style of choreography with an all-male group, but that is Nash challenging the vision of men and how they are perceived in today’s society. A concept Nash does not shy away from.
Nash “obsesses” over function: as a finalist of the International Woolmark Prize, we know inventive fabrics and designs are close to his heart. The RITUAL collection consists of a nylon-merino wool blend: a durable solid fabric, as seen in the combat suit jacket, “Wool has antibacterial properties, so I’ve been exploring what that means in creating a garment that almost ventilates the body,” says Nash. “It’s exciting to use a material that can degrade on its own”. You can now understand why he was shortlisted for the Woolmark Prize, as the love he has for innovative fabrics oozes.
From a design perspective, Nash took a sustainable and functional approach – showcasing pieces with detachable sleeves and hoods paired with seams and panel pieces that travel around the body. His passion for deconstructing garments has always been apparent, but the way he cleverly combines these elements into a streetwear collection that looks perfectly at home and elegantly is impressive.
With his personal experiences and culture in mind, the RITUAL colour palette and knits are inspired by the Guyana print, created with a flag waved over a projector, a subtle tribute to his Guyanese roots and grandparents. Always ensuring a functional outlook, Nash integrated the jacquard knits with mesh – acting as both an insulator when worn as outerwear in winter and transforming into a cool sweater in summer. Meanwhile, baseball shirts are cut with movement in merino wool flannel, with GUYANA across the chest in lettering secured by biobased adhesive.
His show had tributes to many cultures, not only did he give a nod to his grandparent’s background in Guyana, he pays tribute to Gee Artery, one of London’s first black barbers. Artery ran his barbershop for over forty years, becoming known as the “Grandfather of Kensal Rise”. Sadly, he died last month, aged 86.
Watch the full short film RITUAL AW22 here:
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