nick scalisi

So Street: My journey from streetwear to high fashion and back. Part 5

As I am writing this I am sitting in my hotel room in Krabi, a resort town in Southern Thailand.

There is a tropical storm raging outside, and the air is thick with the scent of curry coming from the kitchen downstairs.

I feel worlds away from those days in New York City and L.A. when everything hinged on the order of showing for a collection, or on how a jacket button hole was executed.

And yet even at such distance in miles and time, the recurring thought of those years spent in the throws of a creative dilemma that after all saw its eventual afterlife hanging in someone’s closet, still brings troubled sleep and coordinated patterns to my thoughts, in equal measures.

I have little in the way of regrets, I have always lived my life according to an unspecified plan, an amalgamation of circumstances and events that eventually found their natural course and reason to be. From that “orderly chaos” my life moves forward, not always in a straight line, nevertheless, I keep engaged, hanging on at time from the thinnest of threads; we are after all the caretakers to our own existence.

 

I think in songs sometimes, it’s a habit I’ve  possessed since childhood, when at the age of four I was singing Volare…badly.  And now as I recall those days this one comes to mind.

...I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel

You were Talking so brave and so sweet

Giving me head on the unmade bed

While the limousine wait in the street.

Those were the reasons and that was New York

We were running for the money and the flesh

And that was called love for the workers in song…(here I think fashion)…

Probably still is for those of them left.

Every time I hear that song by L. Cohen two things come to mind: my New York of the nineties and my second wife Ilona and other that interposing workers in song for workers in fashion….everything else is pretty much the same….and  for what is worth, Ilona could also  sing a wicked rendition of Joplin “Piece of My Heat”…I am sure you know that the one giving head to Cohen was Joplin…as the one that took a piece of my heart among other things was Ilona.

Although we are no longer together, she was instrumental to the catharsis of my career as a designer and I to hers, or at least I like to think so. We haven’t spoken for seven years, not since our divorce. Again,no regrets, I have had my share of incredible relationships since then.

 

Anyway as not to jump ahead too much and to follow through what I set out to do which is to try and give a chronological order to my perils and adventures in the world of fashion and all that it encompasses, let us get back to the aftermath of that first solo show in New York City.

Once I left New York and was back at work in Los Angeles, it seems that things slowly started unraveling, the dynamics of our partnership with our manufacturers and production house were becoming more strained everyday. While my intention was to forge ahead with creating a fashion brand, they thought that we should stick to doing our streetwear brands and private label work. I was instead in a New York state of mind, looking towards the Mount Olympus of the Gods of Fashion. What I learned eventually was that the sea of fashion is quite vast and you can find yourself easily swallowed by its depth. The business itself is quite whimsical and unjust at times, many talented designers have come and gone: not unlike any other creative and artistic endeavor, although I would refrain from calling fashion art.

It is at best a very fine craft, that seldom reaches the heights of other artistic practices.

Fashion however is the reflection of a society and its people and their tendencies and needs. We appear as we dress or undress, and with that mere action we create an identity and a sense of belonging.

I intended to move Nistka forward, to bring my views on fashion to a wider audience, to be amongst the influentials designers that would create trends and styles and ideas that would eventually filter down to the mass markets.

It was a time when people like Marc Jacobs and Prada  were creating what I used to call geeks and nerds fashion.

They had already tapped into what was to be the advent of the digital renaissance, a style that spoke of a new society, one that mirrored the senses and sensibilities of a new group of people that would eventually revolutionize the way we would function in today’s world.

The media latched on to that new, somewhat awkward style, and heralded it as the one true influential current in the fashion sea of the nineties, it was Grunge meets Silicon Valley…

I on the other hand, was looking at sex and music and street culture for influences and in doing so began working on my next collection that would show in New York City. Not knowing how would all come together…somehow it did.

 

Diary Dearest New York, New York, that Fashion Town

The Faxes are up and the Diet is Down

August 15, 1996

…The serious rush starts tomorrow beginning with Anne Klein and on to Rodney Telford, Donald Deal, Nistka, Ev & El, DKNY, BCBG, Cynthia Steffe, with a sprinkling of seminars and cocktail dos. There are eight more days and 60 some shows ahead, but it's smart not to count…

Would write the late Vida Roberts Fashion Editor for the Biltmore Sun. She would pass away two years later from cancer.

The thing is, to actually put together the show for that season, was not unlike a trapeze act triple somersault without safety net…it would all come together, to come undone once again…

 

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