The 2010s / Raf Simons (Times Four)

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Raf Simons (times four).

In this decade, probably no other designer worked as the creative director for three completely different brands, simultaneously presented incredible collections at their own label, and left such a meaningful body of work (and I’m sure will keep on expanding it in the 2020s!). I’m speaking of Raf Simons, the Belgian designer, who revolutionized menswear and elevated womenswear in a number of ways throughout the years. By the end of 2000s and in the beginning of 2010s, Simons brought Jil Sander back on track with his well-considered, minimalist sensitivity. Whether we’re speaking of the geometric colour block dresses (spring-summer 2011), all-leather suits for guys (autumn-winter 2012) or his forever great final line-up for the brand in 2012 – a parade of couture-ish, pastel pink gowns and cocoon coats – Simons’ tenure at Sander still keeps on being an inspiration for fashion today. Moving on, Raf was appointed as the creative director of Dior at 2012, and honestly, no other designer in this decade did anything as good for the maison (definitely not Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior’s current designer…). Simons made Christian Dior’s house-codes, like the bar jacket, relevant again; his haute couture felt truly modern; he manages to redefine the label into something intelligent and refined. Not speaking of the gorgeous show venues (the debut collection in 2012 – the flower walls) and show locations (Pierre Cardin’s Les Palais Bulles in Cannes for resort 2016 will always have a special place in my heart). Simons left the brand due to the industry’s neck-breaking pace and constant need for newness – factors that make even the biggest visionaries struggle. After a short hiatus, the news of his appointment at Calvin Klein struck everyone. His Calvin Klein 205W39NYC line was major in every meaning of this word – but not for the corporate, shallow and impatient owners, who parted ways with him after just two years. With Raf, the label could really stand for something. It brought spotlight to New York’s fashion scene. His four seasons there were filled with musings on American culture, from The Jaws and Andy Warhol to cowboys and university merch. Each collection was pure excitement. Also, his direction for CK’s apparel lines was far better than the influencer trash that’s going on now. And of course, Raf Simons, the brand. From the now cult Sterling Ruby collection to the remarkable “odes” (like the Robert Mapplethorpe or The Blade Runner inspired collections), there wasn’t even one ‘bad’ line-up that came from Raf for Raf – each is special, and all the pieces coming from them can be tagged as “collector’s item”. Will Simons work for another brand in the 2020s or stay home with his namesake label? Who knows. Whatever his next step will be, I’m definitely paying attention.

Jil Sander by Raf Simons

Dior by Raf Simons

Calvin Klein 205W39NYC by Raf Simons

Raf Simons… by Raf Simons.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Donna, Calvin, Ralph. Alexander Wang SS20

I’ve been on fence with Alexander Wang lately – his fashion week schedule skipping and temporary identity crisis not only seemed to make him less visible (especially here in Europe), but also… less relevant. But something has sparked in his spring-summer 2020 collection he showed a few days ago in New York (three months ahead of all designers who are based in the city). It was really, really good. It was Alexander Wang we all loved years ago. It was badass, cool, energetic. And, smart. This season, the designer paid tribute to three designers who changed American fashion in the late 20th century, and whose aesthetical impect is still perceivable across the world. Donna Karan. Her stretch jersey bodysuits and big shoulders were the epitome of power dressing in the 1980s, and Wang included all of her signature codes in the opening looks. Calvin Klein. Denim, sex, but also minimalism – all these three couldn’t be missed by Wang, and he pulled them off just the right way. Ralph Lauren. The eternal flannel plaid, suede fringes, corduroy, ribbed knits and luxe cowboy look were all here. Those three designers not only reshaped American fashion, but also made their own take on athleisure go global. Most of today’s 30+ designers in the U.S. were growing up with those names, and Wang’s sporty sensibility is especially built on their foundation. Admitting this so loudly is more than excellent I think.

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.