The fashion designer: Nasir Mazhar

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The Independent Online

"I try to create a world for myself, but I know real life subconsciously seeps in and has its effect," declares Nasir Mazhar, currently the brightest star in London's galaxy of young designer talent, and the creator of the spiked headguard that Madonna sported on her recent Dazed & Confused cover shot. The 25-year-old headgear designer started out as a hair-stylist with Vidal Sassoon before turning to theatrical design to fulfil his desire to work in a more highly conceptualised way.

His work ethic is as idiosyncratic as his personal aesthetic, and was evident in his spring/summer 2009 collection, showcased in an atmospheric presentation during September's London Fashion Week. Mazhar claims his main inspiration is the city he lives and works in, but he likes to weave stories for his pieces.

Mazhar's blurring of the arcane and the modern comes together in a collection that swoops from dramatically draped medieval hennins and crimson cardinal hats, to Hannibal Lecter-esque muzzle masks and nuclear decontamination hoods and visors. That presentation marked him out as part of an upsurge of creativity and methodology on the East End design scene that has eschewed the "street style" and "hipster" mentality, which has been so prominent on the Hoxton circuit, for something more fundamentally artisanal.

Mazhar rather quaintly refers to himself as a hatter – not a milliner, who would traditionally trims hats, rather than designing or creating them. As such, any form of headgear is within his remit, and he has a passion for exploring not only the worn form, but also the space and shape surrounding the head. This is especially true of one of his most recognisable pieces, the sequinned and face-obscuring cube headdress that topped off the opening look at Gareth Pugh's spring/summer 2008 show. The piece had become famous before most of the style press even knew Mazhar's name.

It is Mazhar's innate hybridisation and re-interpretation of ideas that last season won him coveted Topshop New Generation sponsorship, a financial support that will enable him to show again at Fashion Week in February.