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Combining performance, dance and fashion

Winning an opportunity with Adidas helped unite aspects of Saul Nash's practice and passions.

What have you been up to since you graduated? 
Since the summer I haven’t really stopped – I’ve been working towards my recent debut at London Fashion Week Men's (LFWM) in January. Now I’m working towards setting up my business.

How has your collection evolved since leaving the RCA?
The time between the RCA and LFWM gave me space to expand the collection and refine techniques, figuring out unresolved parts and getting it to the standard that I was happy with. When you create within a design school your ideas have a free reign; when you start to potentially sell your work then production and timescale become important. 

What were you doing before you started at the RCA? 
I did a degree in performance design and practice at Central St Martins. I really got into set and costume design, but I wasn’t so interested in connecting it directly to a theatrical narrative. I wanted to create clothes that could be worn on a day-to-day basis.

The first time I applied to the RCA, I was advised to go away and get some more experience. So, I spent a year really surrounding myself by menswear – I did an internship that was very strict on technical aspects; I worked in shops just to be around clothes; I became really obsessed by finishing and the language of menswear.

How has your performance background translated into your design work?
I’m still an active dancer. It really does inspire the way I think about clothes. For me it’s really important to combine this aspect of functionality with aesthetic. I’m really interested in the way things move and liberate the wearer, but at the same time enable them to look good. I like this cross-pollination between the two.

During my time at the RCA I won the Adidas project. Seeing performance within a sportswear context really helped to shape my path. In everything I had studied before the RCA, I’d never found a way to bring my background in dance into my work. There’s always been two separate entities. At the RCA, seeing performance through the lens of sportswear enabled me to marry the two in a way that felt really authentic. I was able to design clothes that I would actually want to wear. 

What was a typical day studying Fashion at the RCA like?
I really enjoyed my time at the RCA because the Fashion Programmes are all grouped together in the same space, so you really learn from and inspire one another. It felt like one big family because you see one another everyday. 

There was so much to do in a day; I’ve never worked so much in my entire life! I’m a hard worker, but the RCA really pushed me to exceed myself. I really enjoyed that way of working. It’s got me to where I am now – I enjoy my work to the point where I can’t stop working on it.

Did you face any particular challenges at the College?
Being able to allow myself room to fail sometimes – that was the most challenging part. I’m always in competition with myself to be the best person I can be. But I realised that as I got more into experimenting, in order to refine these experiments or push them forward, I had to be able to fail to get the best outcomes. Sometimes, if it didn’t work, that was ok.

What was most rewarding about your time at the RCA?
The RCA really gave me the foundations to move forward with my life – that’s the most rewarding thing; really finding what it is that I want to do and feeling able to pursue it. In my RCA application proposal I wrote that I wanted to combine performance, dance and fashion. Although I went off and looked at VR and many different avenues, by the time I left the College I’d been able to reaffirm what I wanted to achieve. I left feeling ready to enter the professional world with a strong grounding of what I actually want to say and do.

What do you have planned next?
I want to pursue putting on a large-scale dance performance. That’s a goal I’m really working towards. I’m also developing and making my clothes stronger. Doing LFWM gave me the drive and ambition to make things better, to look deeper into what I’m doing. Every new experience brings momentum to do the next thing. I’m excited to push forward to the next season, but not forget I want to be dancing at the same time.

It must be hard, fitting it all in!
I do manage to find the space. Dancing is a priority because it’s what inspires me to do the rest. It’s always going to drive my work forward, even if I don’t use dancers in the future, movement is the central focus of my work.

Enjoyed this story? Discover more alumni stories here.

Find out more about MA Fashion at the RCA and how to apply.

"The RCA really gave me the foundations to move forward with my life – that’s the most rewarding thing; really finding what it is that I want to do and feeling able to pursue it." Saul Nash

MA Fashion Menswear, 2018

Saul Nash
Saul Nash