Steven Tai - Graduate Showcase

Photography by Lucas Seidenfaden

The knitted tanks over buttoned up shirts, the clumpy desert boots and ankle-swinging trousers – this collection is pure nerd. Which is fitting for a designer who admits he is a nerd himself.

Steven Tai of Central St Martins was initially inspired by books (hence the nerd aesthetic). The layers upon layers of paper in books translate into a chunky waist band on one of the chosen outfits. Hundreds of fraying fabric layers form a textural 3D block standing out from the body. This distorts the body, creating a hunchback almost – emulating the look of a stereotypical ‘bookworm’. Steven describes this forced posture as a “celebration of awkwardness.”

The collection creates beauty out of frumpiness. The cream and blue tones are chic and crisp, the lines are considered and the pieces well tailored. Though inspired by ‘frumpy nerds’, this collection certainly does not emulate them.

Steven’s self-confessed nerdiness is most evident in an electronically manipulated shift dress. Hundreds of shiny gold fountain pen nibs are appliqued onto a dress, and then suddenly…they spin. In a steady rhythm, line by line, these unusual embellishments turn. The effect is mesmerizing; the dress appears to shimmer. Pretty glam for a nerd.

Steven expressed his excitement at being part of the graduate showcase: “I just really like the energy here, it’s so young, so exciting and new.”

All chosen graduates are given expert mentoring to guide them in their first tentative career steps, and Steven underlined how important these were for him. “They’ve been teaching us things we never learnt at school, things I feel we should know, like the business side. Even if we don’t use it till further down the line, it’s good to know.”

Text: Natasha Slee
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