We meet the young British designer bringing music to his runway shows.

Since the inception of his eponymous label in 2015, CSM graduate Nicholas Daley has unveiled collections that delve deep into his dual-ethnic heritage and explore multiculturalism within the UK. He is, as the critics say, one-to-one within British fashion, having already been tapped by the British Fashion Council for their NEWGEN programme, which offers financial and business support for promising young designers who are just starting to make their mark on the industry.

Something that sets him aside from his contemporaries, is his decision to have an intrinsic link with music throughout much of his work. Previously he’s worked with some of the UK’s most prolific new Jazz stars, including Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown, Alfa Mist and Shabaka Hutchings. His most recent collection, Black Ark, takes its name from the infamous Jamaican studio owned by Lee Scratch Perry, and is a celebration of dub music. Daley sees the approach the the genre as being similar to his own approach to fashion design.

As he jets back from Paris (where he showed with Adidas originals), we sit down with Daley to speak about his relationship with music and how the two industries are becoming ever in-sync

Where did the inspiration for your AW19 collection come from? 

This season the AW19 inspiration came from looking into the legacy of dub music, and how it influenced so many other music genres. Naming the collection after Lee Scratch Perry’s legendary recording studio Black Ark in Jamaica, the reason behind this was simply because it was the nucleus for the birth of dub. I also collaborated with British producer and icon Dennis Bovell who has been a pioneer for crossing over punk and dub music. I have learnt so much from him with his personal accounts of working with such British groups like The Slits, Maximum Joy and Aswad. 

How would you sum up the collection?

This collection still explores my ideas on craftsmanship with hand-taped seam jackets from Scotland, bespoke fabrics from Yorkshire and shoes made in collaboration with Tricker’s shoe makers in Northampton. I am always trying to highlight the the great manufacturers we have in the UK.  

You AW19 show turned into a gig at the end, what made you want to do this? 

I wanted to ensure the fashion element was present with my first runway which was a great experience and I have received some really great feedback. I still wanted to continue my presentation format collaborating with musicians and I was really happy that Puma Blue and Dennis Bovell agreed to play and create this gig feeling. I am trying to challenge what a fashion show/presentation can be and combine my love for music and fashion together –  I just want to create a vibe and an experience for my audience! 

Is this why you chose Bethnal Green WMC to show in this season? 

BGWMC has been running for over 130 years and is a landmark within the Bethnal Green area. Working men’s clubs historically have been the backbone for supporting British music especially reggae/punk genres so it just felt right to hold it there. The feeling and decor matched so well with my collection so it felt like a great harmony when everything came together on the day of the show.

You worked with Puma Blue for the show. What drew you towards him to be part of the show?  

I have been a fan of Puma Blue for sometime now and it’s great to work with people in my generation. Their sound is hard to define with a mix of jazz, punk, dub and soul, which I guess felt right as I wanted to explore dub music and the fact it has influenced so many different soundscapes. 

Why was it important for you as a designer to have a collection which pays homage and champions the music industry? 

I think it’s great to support British music and collaborate with like-minded individuals. My parents ran one of the first reggae clubs in Scotland from 78-82 and their philosophy was to bring people together through music, so I guess I am carrying on the family tradition. 

What other musicians are you into generally? 

It’s hard to say, but all the musicians I have been working with I will continue to work with, such as Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown, Shabaka Hutchings, Obongjayar, Cosmo Pyke and Nabihah Iqbal. There’s also a great Manchester band called DUDS who are creating some really exciting music. 

Do you think the relationship between fashion and music is becoming ever stronger? 

Music and fashion have always gone hand in hand. It’s all about self expression and creating a feeling which projects the message of me as a designer or the musicians I am working with. I am just tying to create a more authentic feeling.

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