“I think Christopher Nemeth is the most important designer to come out of London alongside Vivienne Westwood” says Kim Jones, the Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton. “He is Savile Row, he is the street, he is the club… his designs define London. He trained as a fine artist and came into fashion from being an illustrator, and that chimes with how I started. I can see the influence of his work in so many collections, and yet it is not often acknowledged and still seems unknown to many. That’s why, as we approach the fifth anniversary of his death, I wanted to openly celebrate Christopher Nemeth’s life and work this season at Louis Vuitton.”
Christopher Louis Nemeth (1959-2010) entered the world of fashion unbound by the constraints of somebody who had trained within it. Born in Birmingham, England, he moved to London in 1979 to study painting at Camberwell College of Arts. It was after Art College that Christopher Nemeth began to make clothing for himself. Self-taught in pattern cutting, he utilised the canvas he would paint on, as well as discarded post sacks and reconfigured old suiting. Each became distinct signatures of his nascent ‘deconstructed’ style, a style revolutionary in clothing that was itself indivisible from his art practice. His art too would feature the portrayal of the process of making clothes, of needle and thread, the weave of fabric and hands at work. Creativity and craft were key for Christopher Nemeth and grew to encompass a distinct view that extended to furniture making and interior design, each decisively his own and part of a whole.
Christopher Nemeth’s clothes defined the spirit of London from the beginning to the mid-eighties; the make-do-and-mend attitude, the eschewing of ‘labels’, the self-actualised creativity of rebellious ‘home-craft’ were all part and parcel of a London in the throes of recession and Hard Times. Yet, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; in many ways, Christopher Nemeth was ‘discovered’ by wearing his own clothes and the very force of his personality in them: he was tailor-made for the style press that had started to define magazines at the time. The photographer Mark Lebon had seen the young artist riding his bicycle while wearing his distinctive self-made clothes. Mark Lebon was already a fixture in i-D and The Face, striking up a friendship with Christopher Nemeth, he became a champion of the young designer in those magazines alongside the stylist and accessories designer Judy Blame.
By that point Christopher Nemeth had already decided to make and sell his clothing for and to other people. He had already become a fixture in that other hotbed of London creativity in the early to mid-eighties: Kensington Market. He would go on to be part of the legendary collective and shop that was The House of Beauty and Culture. The style of the interior designers’ of that store, Frick and Frack, has been the inspiration for the interior of the show today.
In 1986 Christopher Nemeth moved to Tokyo, where his spirit of creativity and craftsmanship continued uncompromised until his death. His Nemeth store in the Harajuku district stands as testament to this today; a total work of art, designed by Christopher Nemeth in its entirety and containing his classic designs. Like many who experience the creative axis of London-Tokyo, his work was refined and revitalised by Japan.
It is in this spirit that the tribute with Louis Vuitton takes place today. With the help of the Nemeth family and his extended family, in the fields of fashion and music, today’s Louis Vuitton show and collection continues to embrace the notions of craftsmanship and creativity in the field of fashion. It is a paean to the visionary spirit of London, Tokyo and Paris, and to one of fashion’s foremost pioneers: Christopher Nemeth.