For those who have been following British fashion designer Christopher Raeburn’s career over the last few years and had been impressed by his mastery of technologically advanced fabrics and tailoring, his latest offering of womenswear for Autumn/Winter 2013 came as a breathtakingly pleasant surprise that confirmed the British designer’s sartorial ingenuity and technical capability.
Entitled ‘Optics’, the very feminine collection drew inspiration from the Maunsell Sea Forts (the World War II naval defence structures off the coast of England) to create a palette suggestive of naval suiting and the rusty texture of derelict buildings while evoking desolate landscapes and bleak seaside areas devoid of humanity. The atmosphere of the collection’s presentation, unveiled in an intimate salon show format, echoed this barren setting, with an original audio soundtrack recorded on location from reverberating ocean sounds.
For Autumn/Winter 2013, Raeburn’s talent for sourcing, designing and creating pioneering fabrics was more evident than ever in an exclusively developed felted wool fabric that stood as a natural move forward from the laminated lace he used in his Spring/Summer 20013 garments, in a seductive bespoke degradé where the grains in the wool created a textured gradient pattern that morphed from blue or rust to grey, and in rain-resistant fabrics made possible by the addition of Teflon. Highlights included a military blouson inspired by a 1950s battle dress jacket (but with a contemporary twist in the form of a boxy shape and fluorescent trim), a jumpsuit and a belted Mac that were complimented by heavier pieces in charcoal checks and subdued florals re-appropriated from vintage fabrics.
This collection also broadened Raeburn’s offering of separates to include form-fitting dresses and skirts made from Russian Breton knitwear. Military-grade mesh fabric was also widely used layered over pink lining to add a graphic and feminine edge to bomber jackets and parkas, whereas quilted outerwear pieces such as jackets and gilets were lined with recycled materials in a variety of iridescent colours.
The landscape that inspired it might have been bleak, but Christopher Raeburn’s latest collection allowed many people to rediscover a bright talent whose credentials as womenswear designer were confirmed as being more solid than ever.