As fashion collections unravel and seasons unfold in vertiginous succession within the evolving narrative of sartorial history, it becomes undeniable that Christopher Raeburn is one of the few London-based designers whose creations demonstrate the capacity to be increasingly stronger and more accomplished. With ‘Polaris’, his Autumn/Winter 2014 menswear collection, Raeburn confirmed how his focussed treatment of a concept, inquisitive experimentation of materials, and proficient command of tailoring is demonstrably more confident as time goes by.
Drawing inspiration from an exhibition of photographs taken by Ragnar Axelsson that depicted how humans endure harsh climates and living standards with defiant endurance and stoicism, Raeburn created a range of clothes and accessories that combined contrasting textures of different weight and shape capable of fighting the coldest temperatures. This anchoring concept was achieved with remarkable elegance by bringing together the rugged outdoors and military life with the sophistication of urbane realms in the colour palette used, the fabrics chosen and the silhouettes created.
Key garments that illustrate Christopher Raeburn’s creative principle of fusing utilitarianism with style include outerwear pieces made with bespoke British Millerian waxed cotton or crafted from genuine sheepskin Siberian Officers coats, and lightweight parkas made from vintage German military sleeping bags. When not deconstructing or reusing existing materials, Raeburn still used them for inspiration, as it was evident in the parkas with contrasting sleeves inspired by the lining of British military coats, in the bomber jackets that evoked the flight jackets worn by military pilots or in the cinched lightweight jackets and coats inspired by the parkas worn by artic explorers.
The collection also demonstrated a clever balance of diverse textures and shapes, with heavy outerwear layered with knitwear and lighter garments, geometrically padded overcoats that created ingeniously stylish patterns and bulbous silhouettes, and innovative rubberised wool used to make sweaters and jackets. Throughout, motifs such the cut-out shadow of a Polar bear and screen-printed constellation maps evoked nature and organic landscapes, a notion also highlighted by the colour palette adopted that fused strong burnt orange and navy with muted shades of grey and olive tones.
The results of Raeburn’s ongoing collaboration with The Woolmark Company were also evident with great success in the intarsia knitwear pieces and in the heavy colour-block wool sweaters, while the partnership with Japanese company Porter resulted in appealing rucksacks, pocket bags and holdalls.