>> On the back of my RA visit, not only did it affirm why my clothes must mostly consist of permanent fun, but I also found myself a new face to talk up through one of the shop assistants there. Well I didn't technically speak to Damien Fredriksen Ravn as I was left alone to shop (service just how I like it – leave me to browse peacefully and I'll buy something eventually!), but he did email me later to say that he's a fledgling designer. Music to my ears as I've been short on new NEW names on the blog lately. Ravn isn't a complete stranger though as I vaguely remember his graduate collection featured in the "Fashion's New Optimism" issue of Dazed & Confused, back in December 2008 when I was still working there.
He has come on leaps and bounds though since his time at the Royal Academy in Antwerp although he is still obsessed with technical fabrics and a retrofuture aesthetic. Take this linear sketch here. It was for a uniform that Ravn had designed for the staff at the Interieur design biennale in Kortrijk in Belgium. Interieur has had a rich tradition of commissioning forward thinking outfits for its staff with the likes of Issey Miyake, Stephen Schneider and Walter van Beirendonck all contributing uniforms to the biennale. Ravn won a competition to literally Dress a Host(ess)! and he came up with raw-edged unisex tunics inspired by the Interieur logo. Using 3D spacer material, a breathable neoprene/foam replacement more commonly used in sportswear and lingerie he prints a triangle pattern on it and then uses metallic polyurethane to work a believable kangaroo storage pouch into the front. Essentially Ravn has delivered a highly visually stimulating t-shirt with skirts and shorts in black coated jersey. Oh, and the staff were made to wear Underground Wulfrun creepers (they were tested beforehand for wearability) to complete the spacey-teddy look. It makes you think whether more innovative fabric choices or design details could infiltrate the many workplaces that we encounter on a daily basis, where uniforms are required.
Ravn was inspired to use similar fabrics from his Interieur uniform experience and incorporate them into his S/S 13 collection titled "BEN.NA". He once again worked with the Belgian company Liebaert, which has a long history of producing fabrics for lingerie and technical textiles for use in medical, sports and science fields. He's used the neoprene-replacement 3D spacer again and has experimented with bonding it with silk velvets to give this slippery fabric structure and depth. Laser cut-leather and pastel coloured latex represent the harder armour-esque elements of this texturally rich collection. On the flipside of spacer tech, Ravn has also handwoven silk velvet and antique ribbons into loose kimono tops as well as hand sewing bias tape into seams for a fine finish. It's a collection that pulls back and forth between soft and hard, especially as the hues of silverscreen metallic coated jersey contrast with the Elastoplast pink of the bonded jackets and latex pieces. The Austrian Meisterwerke der Hofjagd und R√ºstkammer (Masterpieces of Arms and Armour) is the root of the collection although with such a direct inspiration source, Ravn has done well not to reflect medieval armour too literally in his collection. Metallic leather collars, iPad clutches and special silver Wulfrun creepers from Underground with a black patent ankle strap complete this collection showing shine and promise that designers are out there, really investigating the possibilities of materials that are out there and not just looking at the tried and tested solutions. On a side note, I love that shoe companies like Underground, who produce in sizeable quantities are willing to take a punt on young designers, making their creeper dreams come true by doing custom designs. I'm the last person on Earth that needs another pair of creepers but it wouldn't hurt to try these silver bad boys on for size.