Dance-Inspired Designer Saul Nash Celebrates His Chosen Family

The London-born designer and choreographer made his name utilising his dance expertise to create multifunctional pieces that foreground liberation and expression. For #10 The Family Issue, Nash and his creative collaborators prepare before their SS22 collection, ‘Fragments’.

This article originally appeared in BRICKS #10, The Family Issue, which you can pre-order from our online store here.

PHOTOGRAPHY Hidhir Badaruddin

“From very early on, even just with my friends, I started to surround myself with people I could collaborate with and could offer me a different perspective on what I was doing,” says fashion designer, dancer and choreographer Saul Nash. We’re hanging on the corner of htown boutique in East London, surrounded by some of Nash’s close-knit creative community. “Especially through dance, you are always working with other people, and I loved that about it,” he says. 

The North-East London native grew to prominence in 2019 premiering his athleisure wear collection with talent incubator Fashion East, and his adjustable garments transformed through zip fastenings, hidden magnets and detachable limbs quickly became a signature. Originally training at Central Saint Martins in performance design, the dancer was inspired to design for the kinetic body, resulting in environmentally-conscious collections of deadstock nylon, mesh and neoprene multi-functional pieces. Nash’s innate attention to detail can be seen in asymmetric hems, embroidered motifs and zingy colour palettes, but his priority is always the function of its wearers, something he regularly tests out on his creative cohort. 

When we released TWIST – a body of work that I know resonated with so many people, which felt genuinely groundbreaking – it felt like an incredible honour. To feel that you’re doing work that matters makes all the late nights worth it.

Sophie Jewes

His AW21 collection, entitled TWIST, artfully subverted expectations of masculinity in a deeply personal collection exploring identity and self-acceptance, receiving critical acclaim and cementing Nash’s place at the forefront of London’s menswear scene. The collection, and accompanying film directed by his partner FX Goby, featured many of Nash’s closest friends performing and included a self-portrait design, called ‘The Kiss’, highlighting Nash’s pride for his queer and Black identities. 

Returning to the runway for SS22, Nash once again revisits childhood memories in ‘Fragments’, including garments inspired by school uniform PE kits and situating his models around a London bus stop. Among the collection includes nylon cagoules that reverse to reveal a motif inspired by his childhood travelcard, a response to the UK government’s proposal to cut free transport for teenagers in London – an invaluable asset for low-income families. 

“It’s a privilege to help him tell stories that are undeniably important,” his publicist, Sophie Jewes, shares. “When we released TWIST – a body of work that I know resonated with so many people, which felt genuinely groundbreaking – it felt like an incredible honour. To feel that you’re doing work that matters makes all the late nights worth it,” she says. Jewes launched Raven Agency in 2019, meeting Saul while working with Fashion East, and the two have remained close throughout. “It’s my job to be a protective energy,” she admits, “A bit of a forcefield around him which allows him to worry about his creative impulses and leave some difficult conversations and problem solving to me.” 

Other members of his tribe include musician CKTRL, artist Izaak Brandt, casting director Troy Fearn and htown director Harry Fisher. 

“I’m inspired by all the different backgrounds and different people, it’s what allows them to give different perspectives,” says Nash of his eclectic inner circle. “Some people are more logical and some people are a bit more eccentric. I think that’s quite inspiring because it can marry into a point of view – harmony. For example, my partner FX is from a completely different background and has completely different experiences. It’s quite beautiful to collaborate with people that elevate you.” 

Nash’s seamless rise from a fashion week newcomer to a major menswear authority may have taken the industry by surprise, but for his nearest supporters, the young Londoner’s success was inevitable. “To be honest, I feel like with each progression I get prouder and prouder of Saul,” says childhood best friend Tolu, who modelled his womenswear debut during his ‘Fragments’ collection showcase. “This comes way before fashion, it dates back to when we were in school and he was the first-ever recipient of this Michael Jackson Award for outstanding achievement in dance. In that moment I just knew he was destined for great things and would be able to achieve them no matter what.” 

When did you first meet Saul and how did you get involved with his work?  

FX Goby, director and boyfriend: We fell in love 7 years ago and I have since seen him blossom into the designer and artist he has become. As a director, I was naturally drawn to Saul’s creativity and inspired by the themes of self-identity and masculinity that he explored. So I simply proposed ideas and visuals to bring the clothes to life and we ended up making a series of films together.  

When did you first recognise Saul’s creative potential?  

Tolu, childhood friend: Saul has always been one of the most stylish people I know but I didn’t realise he wanted to go into fashion until the end of his undergrad. At first, it took me by surprise, but then I realised it made a lot of sense, especially when I saw the beginning of what is now his brand while he was at the RCA and I thought, he’s onto something here.  

How would you describe the energy working with Saul?  

CKTRL, musician: Lovingly transparent. 

What is your favourite part of working with Saul?  

Troy Fearn, casting director: I love hearing Saul talk through the theme and inspiration of his latest collection. Everything Saul does is so rooted in some part of his background and upbringing, and as someone who was raised in a similar setting, there’s a shared joy in bringing this to the runway.  

In what ways has Saul inspired you?  

Nicola Dudley, sister: Saul’s persistence and determination to strive to achieve his goals are what I’m inspired by. His route into the fashion industry is an example of his determination, persistence and perseverance. He was not deterred when presented with obstacles, in fact, it strengthened his resolve to achieve what he set out to do.  

What do you think is the best asset that you bring to this team?  

Harry Fisher, sales director: Finding the commerciality in Saul’s creativity.  

What is something you’ve learned about yourself through working with Saul?  

Sophie Jewes, publicist and agent: He serves as a beautiful daily reminder of the importance of manners. He is immaculately respectful and humble, and it’s infectious. It’d be good if we could bottle whatever that is and sell it – His peers could learn a lot! 

What has been the proudest moment working with this team so far? 

Saul Nash: The proudest moment is always after a show. Every season has been very different, the last two seasons were obviously affected by COVID-19, and it’s really pushed us to have to think in new ways. I think that every season I’m surprised because sometimes I do feel with a team it’s like an algorithm – you can brief everybody but you have to put your trust in people. You have to be okay with where your vision can be taken to to see it all come together, that’s what’s an amazing moment of surprise at the end of every show. 

Enjoyed this story? Help keep independent queer-led publishing alive and unlock the BRICKS WORLD Learner Platform, full of resources for emerging and aspiring creatives sent to you every week via newsletter. Start your 30-day free trial now.