After last season's desert expedition, SANDSTORM, and under the hot lights of the Victoria House show space, Christopher Raeburn transported us to the icy wastes of the arctic with his new autumn/winter collection, POLARIS.
Designers must enjoy creating winter collections as they afford them greater opportunities. There is simply more to play with: more layers, more texture, and consequently more fun. Christopher has clearly had a lot of fun exploring the rich history of cold-weather military gear and as a result POLARIS is largely defined by its heavy and substantial outerwear.
Fabric innovation and research has always been Christopher's strong suit and here items are crafted from British Millerian waxed cotton, weatherproof rubberised wool and vintage reclaimed German military sleeping bags. But recently Christopher has demonstrated that he is also adept at the showmanship that is fundamental for a successful fashion show.
Without a doubt, the standout moment of this show was when two abominable snowmen appeared on the runway. Closer inspection revealed that they were in fact models (conspiracy theorists can stand down) wearing clever inversions of traditional shearling coats – a smart and elegant design choice that was reminiscent of Margiela at their subversive and deconstructionist best.
This collection also provided the designer's first foray into winter knitwear, continuing the partnership with The Woolmark Company from SS14. Cream-coloured knits came with this season's animal totem – a polar bear – on either the arm or chest. It also featured on a range of scarfs and accessories.
This was a collection rooted in the polar landscape as well as its wildlife. The show notes told of how Christopher was inspired by Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson's exhibition 'The Last Days of the Arctic', which charted the receding arctic culture and offered images of life at the extremities of human endurance. Accordingly, the colour scheme of the collection took cues from the arctic tundra, with cold grey and blue shades sitting alongside earthy olive and brown.
Finally, in the accessories and footwear department, collaborations with Porter and Timberland respectively added further function to an already heavyweight collection.
Christopher can consider his POLARIS expedition a complete success, leaving the question which location will he chose to explore next? Having conquered the sea, desert and arctic the designer wept, for there were no more worlds left to conquer.
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