Facetiming with Rabens Saloner founder Birgitte Raben and designer Richard Kemp a couple days ahead of their spring / summer 2023 presentation, the phrase that comes up again and again is “happy accidents”. Typically these happy accidents, which can inform an entire collection, occur when Raben is in Bali, working with the dye masters responsible for the brand’s signature tie dyes. “Something will happen in the process, and it will really say something to us,” says Kemp. This collection is aptly dubbed 'Serendipity'.
Working with the dye masters is much like a creative game of broken telephone. “Whatever is in your head, you have to explain what it should look like,” says Raben. “But then he interprets it the way he sees it.” Raben describes the art of dying as a sort of alchemy – there are no Pantone colours or specific expectations. This collection, the colour references came from the silicone paintings of Berlin-based artist Lev Khesin. Much like with dye, the artist introducers layers and layers of paint onto the canvas, until it converges and drips in a manner that is wholly unpredictable. “They can take months to make. He really goes with the flow in the process,” notes Kemp. “It always reminds me of Andy Warhol saying, ‘It ain’t art unless you can see the drips’.” The result is dreamy and drippy silk frocks that ripple as they catch the wind.
While the dye techniques are certainly the Rabens Saloner special sauce, spring / summer 23 marks fresh forays into tailoring. A chalk blue linen suit, in particular, begs to be worn on a balmy summer night. Elsewhere, a shocking yellow padded jacket is detailed with tromp l’oeil stitching.
To add to the dreamy vibes of summer, the set is decorated with pastel-hued umbrellas. Guests sit on classic work chairs in mirrored chrome, imported from Indonesia. All of the set pieces are available for purchase following the show. I suggest that perhaps I’ll bring home an umbrella to put on my balcony. “I would be happy to give you one,” says Raben. “But I think I’ll have to send it to you because it weighs like 25 kilos.”
See the full collection below: