There has never been a world of music without the fashion, and vice versa. The two are like peanut butter and jelly – delicious on their own, but completely majestic when put together. The two fields can collide in endless different ways, but only rarely does it feel as organic as it does in the hands of Nicholas Daley. The London-based designer of mixed Scottish and Jamaican descent has brought a completely new perspective to the scene, one that corresponds to musical genres that accompany each of the shows with a live performance. Don’t expect costumes inspired by reggae or soul – these are complex ideas resulting in rich, beautifully tailored garments that are believably worn by the musicians which join his cast of models on the catwalk. Since launching his brand in 2015, he has also been dressing the members of the jazz community on their own stage, including Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown and Shabaka Hutchings, all members of the new generation of musicians re-interpreting their genre. This is a creative partnership of give and take, always celebratory of every member of this network of creative minds.
For SS20, the holistic experience of a Nicholas Daley show took cues from afrofuturism and the seminal African American jazz band Sun Ra Arkestra, with a jam improv session by Sons of Kemet making us move in ways we never expected to during London Fashion Week Men’s. However, it was his AW19 collection, which is now available to buy worldwide from stores like Dover Street Market London, Goodhood and BEAMS Japan, that marked a big moment for the brand’s global recognition. It was titled Black Ark, after the studio of Jamaican music producer Lee Scratch Perry which he uses as a platform for dissemination of dub heritage in contemporary British music. For the show, Daley recruited legendary producer Dennis Bovell aka Blackbeard to create a special mix of consisting of unheard tracks which span across his longstanding career. Representing the next generation was emerging artist Puma Blue who performed on stage of Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club after the show.
Accompanying the collection and being sold along with the garments is also a Black Ark exploring the portfolio of personalities that make Daley’s world that very evening. “The zine was created to reflect the characters of the show. Whether it’s Dennis Bovell or Cosmo Pyke it was creating a better understanding of the energy brought by each individual,” he tells us. “My shows have always been about community and this zine reflects and captures more of the spirit of the show rather than a standardised look book.” The photographs, shot by music & fashion photographer Bolade Banjo (who previously captured a main fashion story with Simon Rasmussen in Issue 47 of 10 Men), capture the behind-the-scenes of the show, treating the fashion environment in the same way a camera lens would consider a concert. “Bolade’s work is incredible and he is a fellow creative I respect highly. He understands my approach and his techniques in the dark room also add another distinct element which harmonises with the collection,” Daley added.
In addition to the photographs, the zine includes models’ handwritten answers to personal questions, asked in style of a personal diary or a school yearbook. “Who was the last person you hugged?” or “Last cartoon you watched?” and “Who is someone who greatly inspires you, but have not told them yet?” They complete the bigger picture of who these inspirational individuals are, and allow the universe of Nicholas Daley to extend into a new medium. There was always sound and visuals, but this introduction of words creates a space for further growth. Is this something the designer hopes to explore more in the future? “I would love to continue pushing all creative media as a way of communicating my world and community to others. It’s also great to collaborate with other artists and creatives as I am big believer of cross-pollination whether this is music, art or photography. Everything is interconnected.”
by Dino Bonacic
‘Black Ark’ by Nicholas Daley with photographs by Bolade Banjo is on sale via all of Daley’s international stockists such as Dover Street Market London, Goodhood and BEAMS Japan.