’twas an interesting collection in terms of historical context bbs
At first glance, Nigel Cabourn’s SS18 Authentic Limited Edition collection seems to simply showcase the classic, timeless, utilitarian clothing that has become synonymous with his label. Upon deeper reflection, however, we realise that his choice of inspiration actually carries a powerful message.
This season’s offering, ‘Whatever Happened to Sean Flynn?’ is as much an anti-war statement as it is a triumphant celebration of Nigel Cabourn’s 50th anniversary as a designer.
Sean Flynn was a celebrated war photojournalist and some of his best-known work involves his coverage of the Vietnam War. In 1970, however, he and a fellow photojournalist, Dana Stone, were captured by communist guerillas and neither were ever seen again. Although Flynn’s remains still haven’t been found, he has legally been declared dead.
Working with Tim Page, Flynn’s best friend, Cabourn has managed to incorporate previously unseen images of the duo during the Vietnam War in the conception of his collection. These images were displayed during the presentation.
Page says, “we were all anti-war and Sean wanted to capture all angles, he wanted to see what it was like for the other side fighting the war effort and how they were affected by it. Sure, you get off on war. It’s an incredible rush, it’s sexy, and it’s got adventure. But any good war picture is an anti-war frame and we were indirectly widening people’s perspective through our images”.
Cabourn, in effect, is therefore continuing to widen people’s perspective through the juxtaposition of these powerful photos with his military-inspired collection. He has crafted men’s, women’s and unisex styles in an array of pants, shorts, jackets, and dresses and of the more overt references to war-time clothing, we can look towards Cabourn’s choice of fabric. A standout material is the double-sided camouflage that he created whilst working with Riccardo Bruni. It features faded ‘nam green on one side and faded blue on the other, instantly lifting a war-time staple to modern-day wear.
In his SS18 Lybro collection, Cabourn mixes the aforementioned Vietnam War inspiration with funkier 1960s styles. The featured USMC Field Jacket and USMC Combat Pant are reflective of vintage archive pieces. If we hop away from the US and into the Southern Hemisphere, we find the Australian military, on which Cabourn based his full Coverall made from pigment-dyed poplin. Sixties silhouettes are referenced with relaxed short- and long-sleeved shirts, as well as with shirt-style jackets in various cottons.
The real sixties stars, however, can be found in Cabourn’s SS18 Authentic collection, which is a nine-piece homage to the era in which Cabourn found his footing as a young designer. Mod jackets make a nostalgic appearance but the brightly coloured Work Patch Dress, which has its counterpart in a menswear shirt, is undoubtedly the most eye-catching piece this season.
All in all, Nigel Cabourn has managed to present us his signature design aesthetic all whilst conveying an important message. By exploring his own design past introspectively and by exploring a significant world event retrospectively, we’re given a deeper insight into how personal and collective history informs the clothing he creates.