Born: circa 1960. Education: Graduated from St. Martin's School of Art, London, mid-1980s. Family: Married Lucy Coleman. Career: Produced such collections as Kimota Returns; operated London night clubs, including Solaris; cofounder/owner, with Lucy Coleman, of Body Control Pilates, from 1997. Addresses: 202 New North Road, London N1 7BJ England; 66 Neal Street, London WC2H 9TA England.
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Nick Coleman's work has reflected the shift in mood that has taken fashion from the sleek tailoring and obvious luxury of the mid-to late 1980s into the more casual-based sports influence of the early 1990s.
Among the rash of London-based talent heralding the designer boom, which included the likes of 31 Fevrier, Julien Anryon, Corinne Cobson, Claire Deve, Irie, Pascale Risbourg, and Zucca, Coleman produced consistently strong silhouettes for women. His earlier work had been based mainly on careful tailoring, dresses fitted to the body and then flared into little, full skirts, concentrating on charcoal and navy blue pinstripes for daywear and branching into warmer shades for sharply balanced modern evening designs.
In 1986 Coleman showed his Legion of the Lost collection at the First British Designer Menswear Trade Exhibition, a military and safari styled collection. A prime piece in this collection was described by Richard Buckley in the Daily News Record (4 September 1986) as "a long, body-conscious jacket featur[ing] a belted waist, military-style pockets, pockets at the chest for bullet storage and a double layered back with Y-cutout construction." In 1988, he showed a popular claret palazzo trouser all-in-one, which hugged the torso in gauzy georgette, with tucked silk forming a bustier section linked to the trousers by a strip of buttons that reached from the collar.
In the late 1980s Coleman clothes encapsulated the confidence and streamlined modernity that dominated fashion. His menswear was equally well adapted to the smart, tailored look that was aspired to, with, in 1986, black double-breasted trench coats and classic turn-up trousers. By the dawning of the 1990s, however, Coleman was immersed in the burgeoning rave scene with its more relaxed attitude to clothing. After taking a break from fashion to run his own nightclubs, his designs began to reflect the tribalism and body-conscious sports influence of the scene. The freer feel of young London clubbers led to the development of a more recognizable signature to his work.
The variations on the classic biker jackets he had designed in 1989, with fringing for sleeves and chain-trimmed bra tops, were obviously influenced by the music scene. Later versions were even teamed with punk-inspired tartans. These, however, were quickly surpassed by sexy, sporty, shaped separates that gave ease of movement and a recognizable image for the dance floor. Coleman's strong advertising campaigns followed this mood, with models daubed with body paint to represent the shield emblem adorning much of his diffusion range.
Coleman dressed ardent clubbers in the heavily padded puffa jackets that were obligatory at raves during the first two years of the decade, worn with his bodies, stretch skirts, and trousers with striped trim that referred to school sportswear in its detailing. Although it is this club wear that is most instantly recognizable, he continues to produce well-cut suiting (including, in the 1990s, velvet-collared slim-fitting Teddy Boy styles) for his main line, mixing classic shapes with more experimental elements. His involvement in the 5th Circle menswear collective underlines this dedication to innovative designs and the attention to detail echoed in his consistently strong leather and denim lines.
By 1989 Coleman had joined designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Bent Boys, Luciano Soprani, and Todd Oldham in being distributed by Onward Kashiyama. In 1997 he and his wife, Lucy, cofounded Body Control Pilates, a company manufacturing understated athletic-inspired apparel, featuring activewear as well as bags, blankets, slippers, robes, cosmetic bags, and pillows. The company brought in approximately $350,000 in its first few years.
Coleman's work has continued to fall under the influence of the London club scene, but his ability to produce interesting tailored designs widens his appeal and prevents his clothes from being too narrowly pigeon-holed. His popularity in London is based on his skill in producing clothing imbued with zeitgeist as well as more classic garments that prolong the longevity of his appeal.
updated by Daryl F.Mallett