The international aspect of Graduate Fashion Week, sees tens of international universities send one student to participate in the Swarovski International Catwalk Competition each year. With graduates from around the world, including Japan, USA and India, the show is an amalgamation of cultures, presenting the brightest in creative international talent.

One participant of the show in 2015, was Nicholas Martin Garcia, a designer of Columbian descent and a graduate of ACCADEMIA COSTUME & MODA in Rome. After beginning at Dolce & Gabanna, a week after showing at Graduate Fashion Week, Garcia has continued to learn and evolve throughout his career- currently holding the title of Mens & Womens Sportswear Designer Coordinator at Robert Cavalli. 

We spoke with the international alumni, on how his study in Rome shaped his perspective on culture, how beauty alone is not enough for a successful collection, and how meaningful stories give value to creative pieces.

Which university did you attend, and can you tell us three things you learnt there, that have helped you since graduating?

I attended Accademia Costume & Moda in Rome. The first thing I learnt was dedication. This is a job / career that requires a lot of dedication, often you have to take time away from seeing friends and fun in order to achieve your goals - work comes first.

The second thing that I acquired was knowing “how to think”, making a collection for me requires an ability to create links, how to tell and combine stories, how to translate a variety of ideas that we have in mind. If we do not know how to think and work with concepts to create a design narrative very often remains, if you are fortunate, only beautiful but confused ideas – there needs to be reason “why” behind what we do.  

The last thing, maybe the most important is “culture” as a method of telling, which kind of goes with what I have said above. Fashion needs to make people dream. Culture is therefore an essential ingredient that has helped me to tell a creative story. Learning to give life to my work through art, cinema and photography whilst at Accademia was more important than just a “fashion design course”. Costume & Fashion with four varieties of historical and theoretical subjects. Obviously studying at ACM in Rome has made me forever “culturally curious”, as one of my directors would say, and installed a sensitivity of all around me that otherwise I would never have had.

Congratulations on showcasing in London as part of Graduate Fashion Week! How did it feel to show your work on an international stage?

I really think that London is an essential city for creativity, especially for one who is at the beginning of his career. Often, we start with our ideas, our approach and our vision of things, but when you are within an international context you realise that in addition to your reality there are hundreds of different points of view. It was eye opening and I was able learn a lot and see how others react to my work. Maybe this is the thing that makes you happier and that gives you a certain adrenaline, seeing how other people appreciate your work and the feedback that an international stage and jury can give you.

Tell us a bit more about your career journey since showing at Graduate Fashion Week.

My career has led me, for the time being, to work for other fashion houses where I have had the good fortune to work with people who have made history in this sector. It is ironic to think that the day after I arrived from London for the GFW, I received a phone call for an interview with Domenico Dolce for a role in the menswear team and one week after GFW I started my first day working in DOLCE & GABBANA.

There as I always say I learned tailoring, the mastery and above all the discipline of this work; it is a very complex and demanding company to work for but from one which you come out very prepared for the industry as a whole.

After that experience, I went to Roberto Cavalli in the menswear team dealing with the embroidery, prints and jersey under the creative direction of Peter Dundas, in this company I learned another important aspect: “beauty”. The founder himself bases the DNA of this brand on excess, beauty, passion and colour and ironically these are all things that belong to my native culture, Columbian. At present, I am still there under the new creative direction of Paul Suridge who is teaching me how to make sensuality and glamor contemporary and modern, forever learning.

My current work title at the company is Mens & Womens Sportswear Designer Coordinator.

Are there any political, social or historical concepts you explore through your work, or messages you hope to convey?

I am very attracted by youth culture as a social and historical manifestation. I am always passionate about how young people are this is a constant inspiration for my work. Very often it is young people of distant countries who live a reality where fashion is just a legend. Unfortunately, however, the young "contemporaries" are losing knowledge of the history of fashion and culture, and therefore in all my work I try to insert traces so that they can "wear" something is for my generation has been important. I am a son of the 80's and 90's, you know how traumatic it is for me when someone tells me that he does not know "wannabe" of the Spice Girls? My job is to transmit my generation.

Every year many international fashion students hope to show in Truman Brewery and compete as part of the International Catwalk Competition. What advice would you give them?

Always be authentic, always be professional but above all "share". Always share your teachings, your opinions and your work, help others to grow and let others help you do so! Share your culture. Up to 30 years you need to acquire skills, you have to be a sponge that absorbs everything possible. And remember not to take yourself too seriously, we make clothes, we do not save the world, just have fun!

What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on so far?

Right now, Myself, at this moment I am preparing and working on myself, in the near future I want to be able to launch my own brand, but to do so I have to be ready and complete as a person as well as a designer.

Where are you hoping to be in five years’ time?

I hope to be in a classroom at my university, sharing a "success story" with the students, and of course being a Creative Director.





Interview by Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins