Fashion East, the indisputable fertile ground for fresh global fashion talent has delivered yet again, this time featuring five designers namely Liam Hodges, Massimo Casagrande, Nicomede Talavera, Roxanne Farahmand and Tom Ryling. Judging from the hype that filled Mercer Street Studio in Covent Garden, where the presentation took place, Fashion East may very well be the go-to event for London Collections: Men. In its typical style, each corner of the studio has been tailored to the specific collections of the respective designers, making the event nothing short of riveting. Each installation reared for its fair share of attention; the army of models in balaclava at Tom Ryling pitted against the bare-bodied 'boy racers' nestled on some hot wheels at Roxanne Farahmand. The fashions seem to be seasons ahead, straddling at the very frontier of what is to come. It is hardly a surprise that this menswear installation continues to draw its usual crowd of taste makers across the board.
Among all, one collection stood out and that was Nicomede Talavera's. It was by no means the loudest but definitely the most intriguing. The young designer, fresh out of the MA Menswear Fashion Course at Central Saint Martins has managed to achieve a finishing that rivals those of seasoned labels. Perhaps less like his counterparts' in the room, his collection puts him in the league of other "intellectual designers" like the much more established Raf Simons and J.W. Anderson, whose designs are often conceptual and operate on their own codes of construction. When asked who he designs for Talavera quipped spontaneously, "I get asked that question a lot" and gave it a while for the thought to brew. But he assured it's not a thought neglected. He adds, "It is a person who wants timeless pieces" and again met with pensive silence. Perhaps, it's too pedestrian to peg the Nicomede Talavera man to someone or something we already know. He goes on to explain, "My collections are always a development of the previous one," and brought our attention to the quasi 70's elements of flared trousers that sweep the floor that have been updated with unexpected slits. Elements of 90's youthful effortlessness a la Teenage Precinct Shoppers tones the collection down from being remotely farcical. The collection was also accented with a variety of textures from patent leather, shearling panels, cargo and welt pockets, all laid out in a graphic scheme as a reference to American artist, Robert Morris who toyed with ideas of negating reason popular in Modern Art. There is a similar streak of post-irony irrationality in Talavera's styles. They are full of paradoxes that seem impossible to mediate but they make for a very alluring collection - all done with a dash of humour.
With two collaborations with luggage giant EASTPAK already under his belt and orders from major retailers LN-CC and Joyce, Talavera is poised for the global stage and could very well be the next big thing from London following in the footsteps of Christopher Kane and J.W. Anderson.
Looking over to the other side of the room, a special mention goes to Tom Ryling for his static prints and all in all, a cohesive presentation. The message, "Amongst all the noise, the chaos, the violence and smoke - you make out a figure; this man. He Taught Me How To Fight" encrypted into the fabrics, evoke a mix of flashbacks and a foreboding feeling that is admittedly quite aesthetically pleasing. The static prints bring to mind visions of lo-fi technology of the past that somehow translates into post-apocalyptic undercurrents. Whereas some designers might avoid the memory lane for inspiration due to fears of a collection potentially reduced to nostalgia, Tom Ryling has managed to design one that is both evocative and on the pulse of the man-machine discourse that is very much of the zeitgeist.
These fresh breed of Fashion East designers have proven to be more promising than ever, with a real chance of becoming household names within the London fashion circuit and beyond. To mark their trajectories from here is as enthralling as the collective of fierce innovations seen today. London remains as the unrivaled breeding ground for cutting-edge new talent, second to none thanks to these five.