Nigel Cabourn studio visit
There weren’t any planes, but trains and automobiles were both involved in my journey up to Newcastle to visit the studio of Nigel Cabourn last week. Situated a short cab ride out of the city in Gosforth the studio sits at the bottom of the garden of Cabourn’s home. A small but light and airy two-storey building, it houses Nigel’s small team of around ten members and provides a fantastic setting for a day’s work.
The day I’d picked to go and visit was proving to be a rather busy one for the team, with lots of visitors to the studio, including the nice chap from Ventile who came for a meeting in the afternoon. Nigel had recently returned after a three week stint in Japan showing both this and next season’s collections, and the day before himself and his two designers, James and Kyle had been on a research trip for Autumn/Winter 2012.
Although I’ve been asked not to talk about next season’s collection it’s going to be an absolute cracker or a range and being privy to seeing some of the work involved and the reference images (which by themselves would have been worth the trip) was fantastic, not to mention witnessing the sheer attention to detail that putting a collection like this together involves.
The studio also housed next year’s Spring/Summer collection, and Drew was kind enough to talk me through it all. The range is an indepth study of the uniforms and civilian clothing worn by Field Marshal Montgomery, who was the leader of the Desert Rats in WWII. As you’d expect a very lightweight affair, containing lots of linens (all woven in Ireland) and lightweight cottons, including Oxfords and waxed versions of the fabric.
The surface jacket makes another appearance, this time being fully unlined Beeswax cotton and Camerman jackets now come in a Mackintosh/linen mix. Mallory’s get the lightweight touch too in unlined linen with sateen panels taking the place of the Ventile, and the reversible shirts have been changed for this season – so whereas they were once bonded cotton, they’re now produced with a very clever Japanese weaving technique, which makes then much lighter and more versatile.
Moving on to the new styles in the collection, there’s the ‘Monty suit’ – Military shirt, shorts and tie which are inspired by the above image of the Field Marshall and there’s that cracking camouflage that you’ve no-doubt seen by now. The shorts in it are great but it’s all about that unlined jacket for me – and regardless of whether camo is ‘in’ or ‘out’ next season this is a great piece and one I’ll almost certainly be treating myself to.
In addition to Spring/Summer 2012, I also managed to see some pieces from the current range, with the absolute daddy of the collection being the leather and shearling Coastal Command jacket, complete with its bright orange painted hood. More like armour than a coat, it’s a stunning piece and one that will probably go on to gain the same kind of reputation as the Everest Parka has.
Ever present was the trusty Camerman jacket, lined for Winter and in arguably it’s best fabrication – a mix of mackintosh and Harris Tweed. This time the Tweed was left a solid colour, either in a very autumnal forest green or the brilliant bright orange that features on many of this seasons pieces (like the full orange tweed Mallory jacket).
Also dotted around was the odd vintage piece of clothing and some nice sample pieces (like the Surface jacket with that massive riri tank zip on it) and in all honesty the whole place was like an Aladdin’s cave of vintage ephemera – from old fuel cans, vintage suitcases, bags, shoes and medals plus a couple of Everest Parka’s from the original Ascent of Cabourn collection from 2003.
It was an excellent day out, and one filled with stuff to gawp at and photograph. I also got to spend some time with Nigel for a chat (and a bloody good Lasagne from the local Italian) but as there’s far too much to cram into a single piece, there’ll be more of the vintage bits and pieces and an interview in another post coming soon.
For more information on the brand, or to find your nearest stockist, go to the website here: Nigel Cabourn.