For the Autumn Winter 2018 collection Renli Su drew inspiration from the story of Jeanne Baret, a French botanist, born in 1740, and the first woman to circumnavigate the world.
Jeanne’s insatiable curiosity and hunger for adventure led her on an almost impossible journey: disguised as a man she embarked on the explorer ship of Prince of Bougainvillea, and spent many years on sea and setting foot on unknown soil. During her travels she discovered, collected and recorded hundreds of plant species, the most famous amongst them being the brightly coloured Bougainvillea, named in honour of the excursion’s leader.
As Jeanne Baret represented two separate ways of looking at the natural world, combining the feminine folkloric knowledge of herbalism with the more male dominated science of botany, Renli Su crafts a balance between female and male silhouettes and seamlessly merges elements from the Victorian era, the sailor’s attire and the contemporary vision of the Renli Su girl.
The creamy white that is central to Renli’s palette is enriched with blue and beige stripes that conjure the naval traditions and while deeper blues and greys reflect the water of the oceans. The fabrics of AW18 range from flower embroidered rami and lightly quilted cotton, over linen-cotton jacquard, dyed in a rich red for the billowed sleeves reminiscing of the sailors’ loose undershirts. The transparent fabrics are chosen to represent the lightness of the sails in the wind, while the warmer silk and wool mixed textures are more protective and embracing the wearer on their own journey.
The light beige striped linen-cotton fabric is treated with a texturizing solution that elevates the fabric against the black lining in the background, while contrast stitching on the knitted underwear takes a small step in the direction of sportswear, creating an interesting contradiction to the feminine floral pattern of the knit. Throughout the collection decorative stitch lines hint at the female figure even if the silhouette of the garment is designed to hide it.
Renli Su typically inserts Victorian construction details into many of the styles; AW18 for example features corset boning, crossed string fastenings and long rows of little buttons as a nod to nostalgic time travel. This collection also introduces a new romantic silhouette for the quilted cotton jacket and the use of fluffy faux fur with fibres of Yak wool, in a small series of reversible jackets and coats.
In the collection of AW18, Su voices the deeply human desire for adventure and tells a story of the courage to follow your interest into unknown territory, no matter who you are.