On Brand: Nasir Mazhar

The London native talks interns, sportswear and that Fashion Forward prize.

There’s much change afoot on the London Fashion Week schedule this season, with Lucas Nascimento moving away from the Topshop show space to the BFC courtyard space and Ashish doing the reverse, meanwhile Margaret Howell is set to leave the comfort of the label’s flagship store – the first time ever? – to join Nascimento at Somerset House.

But perhaps most excitingly of all the toing and froing, is Nasir Mazhar’s presence on that most prominent catwalk within the formal grounds. The first time the designer, previously exclusive to hats and later accessories, will do so.

“I think the main thing is that we’ll reach a much wider audience than before,” confirms the man who joined Christopher Shannon and Michael van der Ham in dressing some 350 dancers for the opening ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics, in what was admittedly a snippet of something much bigger.

                     Watch Nasir Mazhar's AW14 menswear show here

For the last two season’s his menswear collections have stolen the show at London Collections: Men, as much for the loyal friends-cum-fans whose applause top anything (Clash at least) heard throughout the two days prior, as for the collections themselves.

To set the scene, both SS14 and AW14 were given a 5pm slot on the last day of the schedule, making them the final show of the ‘week’ for most audience members, while each also delivered something completely unique to Nasir. Hence a celebratory atmosphere and his name much championed.

Which is not to say the boy got lucky. Hardly! AW14 wowed all by itself via textures, layers, shape and shine, all super rich in quality and finish, and supported by goth touted leather and metal boots and belts, suitably styled by his long time collaborator, Matthew Josephs.

The show notes for last month’s collection were an equally pleasant sight, with Mazhar’s studio interns listed second only after the studio team. A feat rarely achieved by those at the bottom of the food chain.

“Show notes are to thank everyone involved,” the designer explains. “Anyone who helped make the show and collection happen. A show isn’t possible without all the hard work that everyone puts in, but I feel that credits should go in order of involvement.”

            

 

Involvement was the key word for SS14’s womenswear presentation, as models took the form of Hayley Louisa Brown (who shot the SS13 look book), Ebi Sampson (a PR at Ella Dror, the agency responsible for the shows), Anna Trevelyan (who styled the whole shebang), and several other friends and collaborators; the Nasir Mazhar tribe as they are oft described.

As noted in our initial review, branding was prominent at the presentation but went beyond the usual elastic waistbands, instead provided by beading. “Personally it’s an aesthetics thing. I love branding. It looks so good when done right,” he says of what has become as trademark Mazhar as the Bully cap, before adding: “It’s not necessary though.”

This focus on branding and fondness for tracksuits, have seen the label stamped time and time again with the sportswear tag, something the designer repeatedly contests. “Sportswear is made for playing sports in. I don't call what I do sportswear. It’s clothing.” Indeed, it’s hard to imagine getting stuck into a game of football while sporting gingham knickerbockers or a petrol green shirt.

Nasir Mazhar is not ignorant of the nature of his wares mind, as his reaction to his new status as a Fashion Forward winner spells out. “I was quite shocked to be honest, obviously screamed a few times. When you look at whose won it in the past, it’s always pretty much ladies formal wear, and now I’ve won it doing what I do.”

Previous winners include Mary Katrantzou and House of Holland, while Sophia Webster and J. JS Lee have also been awarded the cash prize and business support for AW14 and SS15. While not exactly formal in style, the two are definitely more traditional winners.

“It’s really amazing,” Nasir lets on. “Thank you BFC.”

Words: Zoe Whitfield

Nasir Mazhar presents on Friday 14th February at 6pm. You can stream the show here

nasirmazhar.com

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