Left Creative Review, November 2008
Right Rachel LAmb as her own muse

Left Mother's 2000-200: Traces of the Future, by Miyako Ishiuchi
Middle Textlie explorations, The Skin I Am In, by Rachel Lamb
Right Garment detail, The Skin I Am In, by Rachel Lamb

Left Nude Nancy
Middle Controlled Cass
Right Detail of Asymmetric Amy Blush

Left Garment detail, Clinical Clare
Right Second-skin leather gilet, Unbalanced Beth

Left Close-up of blushing skin, Rachel Lamb
Right Blushing digital print, Bruised Bella

Left Close-up of mirrored accessory
Right Dentist kit accessories

Rachel Lamb fabric developments

Rachel Lamb fabric developments

Left Debs Corporation
Middle Weisbrod
Right Masters of Linen by Iafil

Skin Fabrics

15th October 2009

As the fashion world strives for perfection, embracing imperfection and the ever-changing shape of the female body is a brave approach that offers up a new and exciting aesthetic. The WGSN Materials team was engaged and inspired by the work of Rachel Lamb.

Inspired by our Think Tank: Aged story for autumn/winter 2009/10, and using her own body as her muse, fashion and body architect Rachel Lamb's collection, The Skin I Am In, is thought-provoking and honest.

"Embracing imperfections and finding beauty in the unconventional, Aged surfaces are ones that we want to cherish. Flawed and imperfect, they offer up an emotional and almost intimate response." Think Tank Surface: Aged, autumn/winter 2010/11

Viewing her own skin as her personal armour and 'emotional barometer', Lamb's colour palette and fabric combinations explore how a woman's skin can easily bruse, blemish and mottle. Understanding the changes in skin as we grow and evolve and the appertaining natural folds and creases, Lamb's fabric developments, draping and garment construction techniques reference nature's state of constant change and reinvention.

Creating her collection by positioning fabric choice and manipulation on the same footing as silhoutte, the resulting garments taken on a sensitivity and natural tactility akin to skin.

Close inspection reveals that the garments and fabric details are almost reminiscent of an anatomical exploration: dusty salmon pink crinkled chiffons blend into blushing and bruised satins and fluid jerseys.

What is especially interesting about her garments is the neutral skin tones that merge with the models' skin, making it almost impossible to discern where the garment ends and the human body begins. Fabrics are mixed and matched - from moleskin leatherettes to synthetic silky jerseys - crossing textures from matt to silky and into structured and moulded leathers that appear as glimpses into the future form of the evolving body.

Pushing the boundaries of what is accepted as beautiful, Lamb has created digital prints of close-ups of blushing skin and added blemishes and imperfections that make the viewer question whether the fabric has simply been printed badly - but of course this is all part of the point: the imperfections are designed, considered and of course integral to the overall beauty of the garments.

As a whole the collection appears to take us on a journey from youth to maturity and through different levels of emotion, putting a mirror in front of the viewer and highlighting our own preoccupations with the feminine image.

Giving her outfits names such as Nude Nancy and Bruised Bella, we begin to understand that this is about femininity as well as notions of female imperfection and perfection. Mirrors are also an important part of Lamb's collection, used as accessories for a continual reminder of the appearance of our selves. Mixed in with cut-mirror clutch bags and bracelets, dentists' apparatus also forms part of the collection, perhaps a direct nod to the pursuit of cosmetic improvement in contemporary society. Lamb has used textile techniques such as crochet both as a means to update these dental implements and to affix them to the garments.

Fabric inspirations
Fabrics are ruched, pleated, pulled and stretched to resemble skin, with stitch used as much as an effect in itself as to create the garments. Edges are raw, with conspicuous, exaggerated stitching almost resembling crude surgery. Control-stretch mesh fabrics more suited to control underwear make this collection fresh, while anatomical forms cut from flesh-coloured leathers are worn as over-pieces, contrasting with the more fluid elements. Rachel Lamb fabric developments

Imperfect beauty and imperfect fabrics are key trends that have been bubbling away for a few seasons now, and are especially key for autumn/winter 2010/11, as highlighted in our Think Tank Surface story, Aged. These trends will continue in importance for spring/summer 2011 and beyond as textile companies continue to play with new spinning and construction techniques to create uniquely beautiful fabrics.

WGSN comment
A recent graduate of Kingston University's MA Fashion programme - a course set up to push the boundaries of thinking about the future of fashion through innovation, expression and technology - Lamb also recently showcased her work at the prestigious Vauxhall Fashion scout during London Fashion Week. WGSN's Materials team is excited to see what the future holds for her.

Contact rachalamb@hotmail.co.uk
© WGSN 2009