liam hodges, nicomede talavera and rory parnell-mooney on going from boys to MAN
As Rory Parnell-Mooney joins Liam Hodges and Nicomede Talavera for MAN autumn/winter 15, we meet the new faces pushing London menswear forwards.
Liam Hodges spring/summer 15
The forever evolving MAN, the Topman-funded and Fashion East driven talent hub that supports three emerging designers each season, welcomes its latest star, Rory Parnell-Mooney. As Bobby Abley floats off on a Disney daydream, the standout Central Saint Martins graduate joins Nicomede Talavera and Liam Hodges to complete spring/summer 15's talent triptych. In an MA collection that explored the ritual art of dressing, the Irish born Central Saint Martins graduate caught the collective eye of the MAN selection panel by adorning boys in powerful, ecclesiastical shapes born from images of European rioters.
Whereas previous graduates full of promise have announced themselves to the industry as part of Fashion East's Installations, Parnell-Mooney has been fast-tracked and will blossom under the spotlight of one of London Collection: Men's biggest draws. Fashion East have an ever-searching eye cast over the talents of Central Saint Martins, Royal College of Art and beyond. It's not just the brightest prospects but the most committed, the most mature and the most ready, that are selected.
The MAN show is a big draw because its designers are showing work that is their most free and creative. It's both frightening and exciting to be stepping into this world. Rory Parnell-Mooney
"He was one of those students that could be a pain; I mean that in a good way, because he really believed in what he was doing," Peter Jensen, Head of Menswear at Central St Martin's MA course, begins. "And the results were great! Rory has a great sense for fashion, texture, shapes and he's forward thinking," he adds. "Out of everyone in my year," Rory explains, "I think I'm the only one who wanted to launch a label, everyone else wanted to work at a house, label or brand, mostly because we're all worried about money," Parnell-Mooney begins. "I thought like that too and and after the MA I spent three months doing interviews, meeting people and speaking to Louise. I began to get the confidence to do my own thing after realising that the reality of working for another label wouldn't be as fun or as rewarding for me personally. There must be someone out there who will buy my designs so I could cover my rent," he adds with a glint in his eye. "In terms of the MAN selection, my first reaction was shock. I was keen to be part of the show because for me, what I do translates so much better when they're able to move within that world."
As they cut, stitch, sew and style their work, many students dream of following in the footsteps J.W. Anderson, Christopher Shannon, Astrid Andersen and Craig Green. Parnell-Mooney, Hodges and Talavera all did. "When you're studying, it's something you look at, Parnell-Mooney confirms. MAN enjoys an unrivalled reputation for identifying and supporting the most exciting new menswear names in the industry. Moments like New Power Studio's child backpack wrapped in multi-coloured Marigolds and Craig Green's carpentry headpieces have pushed London menswear forward. "I've watched it grow from being tagged on to London fashion week womenswear to being huge part of London Collections: Men. The MAN show is a big draw because its designers are showing work that is they're most free and creative. It's both frightening and exciting to be stepping into this world," he adds with a gulp.
"I knew of MAN from the moment I started studying and I'll always remember seeing its designers really pushing London menswear, they created something truly exciting and are blazing it now," Nicomede Talavera offers. "Also, there's so much attachment to it. I helped out Katie Eary when she was part of MAN, on that snakeskin collection, and as a student, it was great to see recent graduates starting to succeed by going it alone," he adds. "During my time at college when I working on an art foundation and had no idea of what I wanted to do, MAN, with shows like Carri's Sonic show and Aitor Throup's debut, made me take fashion seriously," Hodges remembers. "In a way, it was MAN that made me want to do fashion," he adds.
Those early shows with Cassette Playa and Aitor Throup made me take fashion seriously. It was MAN that made me want to do fashion. Liam Hodges
In addition to being the place to go to discover fresh talent and feast on youthful experimentalism, MAN is a nurturing process where talent blossoms and businesses develop.Supported designers also receive financial sponsorship, ongoing business support, one-on-one mentoring from panellists, and a place in top international sales showrooms in Paris. "After the experience of last season's debut, I was desperate to continue my journey with MAN," Talavera declares. "From sales to press, the platform has elevated everything about the brand. I enjoyed my static presentations, but you can push it that bit more on the show stage with having the control from casting to soundtrack, ultimately, it's enabled me to present the brand how I've always wanted to," he adds.
As their stockist lists grow, the combination of control, support, access and knowledge has benefited both Hodges and Talavera."We're hugely proud of Liam and Nicomede - fantastic people and talents who in just one season have worked out how to translate their aesthetic into great product that's been picked up by the most prestigious international stores - Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony, JOYCE and more," Lulu Kennedy declares.
I knew of MAN from the moment I started studying and I'll always remember seeing its designers really pushing London menswear, they created something truly exciting and are blazing it now. Nicomede Talavera
Whilst designing autumn/winter 15 with ideas of rebellious boys and market traders bouncing in their respective brains, Talavera and Hodges are now busy balancing the demands of production; the support of Fashion East and Topman is helping them turn their dreams into businesses. As they are one step ahead of Parnell-Mooney, we close our informal chat with Hodges and Talavera sharing X-Factor-esque soundbites and pearls of wisdom for the newcomer. "Justify everything to yourself, don't do it for anyone else," Talavera begins. "This is the time to really show off who and what you are. There's so much space for new talent on the London menswear scene and it's a great fun, open market, it's not as competitive as womenswear, we're friends. Me and Liam, we're bros," he adds, before hugging Hodges. It's true, few competitive markets exhibit such camaraderie as London menswear does. "Ask everyone you meet questions because you can learn so much over those few days of LC:M, the other designers are so helpful, they're amazing," Hodges agrees, "ultimately Rory, try and enjoy it, that's the main thing. And remember that it's only clothes, life goes on," he adds.
Text Steve Salter
Photography Piczo from MAN spring/summer 15.