Christopher Raeburn tells students 'now is the time to experiment and be unique'


Date: 30th Mar 2017

It all started with a sleeping bag.

Not just any sleeping bag, but an ingenious sleeping bag owned by top British fashion designer Christopher Ræburn's dad.

Christopher, who has become renowned for his re-appropriation of military fabrics and outerwear created from de-commissioned parachutes, visited Bucks New University this month. He charted his rise through the fashion ranks with BA (Hons) Textiles and Surface Design and BA (Hons) Fashion Design students.

"My earliest memories of fashion weren't reading my grandma's old copies of Vogue or making small clothes for dolls or anything like that," Christopher told students. "My dad used to renovate old vintage cars and we'd go to these meeting in the middle of nowhere and camp there for the weekend.

"We used to take this sleeping bag and what I loved about it was that it had sleeves, was completely waterproof, and then you could zip of the bottom and tuck it behind you like a snail and walk around with it. I remember thinking 'that is frickin' amazing'. And it stuck with me - it's pure function and that's what I kind of love, and it that runs through everything I do."

Christopher talked about his humble beginnings of using a free space above an old j-cloth factory in Luton, to living in a converted peanut factory in London with fellow artists to, finally, his designs gracing the catwalks all over the world.

The former Royal College of London student explained: "When you're doing a degree, and if you go on to do a Masters, that is your time to really experiment.

"After eight years of being in business I have to worry about paying people, rent, and all of those other things, so right now is the time for you to try out everything in your work. It's key that what you are doing now, is fun.

"I really used that time as an opportunity to experience a lot. You need to sort of be creatively selfish and really get into what you love, and make sure the work you are doing is unique."

Christopher's visit was the last in a series of industry and employability talks for the Fragmenti Symposium. Supported by The National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies and UK Fashion & Textile Association, Senior Textiles Lecturer Karina Thomas curated the talks which aim to build the students' understanding of careers, employability and prepares them the world of work.

Other speakers during Fragmenti included Lara Jensen, bespoke milliner and costume designer who has worked with the likes of Lady Ga Ga, Ed Sheeran and Guy Ritchie; Katie Dominy, co-founder of Arts Thread; Sophie Carr, a former Bucks student from Hand & Lock, and Emma Kendall, another Bucks graduate who interned for Vivienne Westwood, among others.

Rosie Cate, Course Leader for (BA) Hons Textiles and Surface Design, said: "It was great to have Christopher visit our students to give them a real insight into the fashion world.

"This academic year the students have really enjoyed the Fragmenti careers talks. They are designed to equip the students for their chosen pathways in knit, surface and printed textiles. Speakers have offered a variety of great advice including sourcing, design, building a brand, CVs and starting their careers.

"Talks like this are key to keeping our partnerships to industry which is pivotal in bringing the real world to our students so they are ready for their careers after Bucks."