On the first day of London Fashion Week for the past two seasons, you might have seen me storming around the exhibition stands like a bedraggled bag lady, laden with a cherry hat on my head, a gaggle of necklaces around my neck and a ton of hangers. That's me picking out pieces from the exhibitions to put together outfits for every issue of LFW Daily in a bid to talk up the designers that have stands at the now ever-sprawling space of Somerset House.
Lucas Nascimento struck me straight away despite having a rail that was sort of tucked away by a staircase. I vaguely remembed he had shown his last collection in Rio in Brazil and could recall thinking to myself "This guy is one to watch....". It was a surprise to learn that Nascimento has in fact always been based in London and now he's making a go of it here properly by presenting his S/S 12 collection at London Fashion Week.
Eagle eye precise knitwear with a subtle sensitivity for palette and texture has sort of been deserted since the likes of Louise Goldin departed London for New York (and is now supposedly working for Kanye West). Lucas Nascimento therefore conveniently swoops in to make his mark at a time when level-headed and slick maturity is rampant (J J.S. Lee, Palmer Harding, Simone Rocha, Thomas Tait.... all from the same graduating MA year of Central Saint Martins incidentally).
There's nothing stark about Nascimento's knitwear though that speaks volume through the techniques of creating his own textiles that are a feat in their own right. For S/S 12, the painter Agnes Martin provides the textural inspiration as the appearance of a woven texture spurs Nascimento into experimenting with a cord weaving technique that looks immaculately reined in when tailored into swing jackets, peplums, trousers and simple dresses. The yarn that loops over the layers of cord is something that Nascimento first experimented with to differentiate the spacing and as a result there are many swatches where the pattern is shifted ever so slightly. The different colour combinations also has wildly different effects on the final textile and it's Nascimento's confident use of colour colour throughout the whole collection that really grabs your attention.
This jacquard pattern is meant to give the appearance of a loose woven textile and again has undergone a few swatch experimentations to get to the final pattern. I love the very neat and tidy effect of the ultra thin collar and the buttoned-up sweater that also dips down at the back, a shape that Nascimento employs repeatedly in the collection. He also cuts out sweaters in the front to present the cropped cardi as a layering option, something that Nascimento is hugely fond of - that sort of thing has my name written all over it.
A roughened cotton yarn that has white mixed in with a colour creates a very fine gauge knit that also a very chalky appearance. When made up into colour blocked trousers and shirts with collars, you wouldn't look at the piece and instantly think of "knitwear" and Nascimento is constantly challenging the conventions of knitwear with his use of tailoring. Apparently he has a machine in his studio which is capable of veeeeeery fine gauge knits, handy for doing samples in this country before production in Italy takes over... don't ask me for the technical information but the machine certainly looked like a fine specimen.
Stretchy striped tops complete the textural gamut for S/S 12 and also means Nascimento can provide anything from interesting basics to more complex pieces making his prices fairly reasonable too for work of this quality.