Polar Vortex: Christopher Raeburn Fall 2014

There’s no better advertisement for Christopher Raeburn’s designs than those on the backs of the American Express stewards scattered throughout Somerset House’s courtyard. In torrential rain and wind, Raeburn’s high-performance designs remain as streamlined as they do on the runway.

Practicality and protection are at the core of Raeburn’s design ethos, and remained uncompromised in his fall collection. It’s no secret that the designer is obsessed with adventure; in the past, his outerwear has been crafted from up-cycled maps, old parachutes and military dead stock. Then there’s his recent appointment as artistic director of the Swiss Army Knife company Victorinox, the sponsor of this show.

For fall, Raeburn looked to the intrepid polar pioneers captured in Icelandic photographer Ragnar Axelsson’s haunting exhibition Last Days of the Arctic. Axelsson’s images highlight the stoicism and strength of the female explorer. This was echoed in Raeburn’s show with more structure — like tailored trousers and solid military jackets with neoprene paneling — and further developments in texture, such as the sumptuous synthetic furs and shearling that lent the collection a luxe finish. Utilitarian merino wool shift dress felt effortless and forgiving. This was a thoroughly modern female explorer, one who felt all the more relevant by the gale force winds heard through the walls of the venue.  

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