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.

Men’s – New New Look. Dior AW19

It’s just the third runway collection from Kim Jones, but it’s already visible that his Dior has the new, new look. The Dior man is somewhere between deluxe athleisure, composed of utilitarian styles and comfortable fits, and a couture dandy, a territory that lets Jones embrace the brand’s truest haute heritage – which used to connotate with womenswear, only. The autumn-winter 2019 collection was a pure fashion moment we all waited for the entire season. Models didn’t exactly “walk” the runway, but stood still on a moving sidewalk. Suiting was given an air of elegance with draped, floor-sweeping sashes in satin and leopard print faux fur. What brought the line-up a truly exquisite touch was the collaboration with artist Raymond Pettibone. Jones used his illustrations for all the hand-made embroideries and embellishments, that covered the tops and shirts. Spectacular.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Tokyo Boy. Dior Men Pre-Fall 2019

So we came to this moment in fashion, when menswear’s pre-collections are as important as women’s. Or, as in case of Kim Jones’s latest line-up for Dior Men, even more significant (sorry, Maria Grazian Chiuri). It’s just his second season at Dior’s menswear line, but Jones isn’t afraid to take big steps to catch everybody’s attention. Well, and there are major reasons why Dior Men is so appealing lately – just see your Instagram feed that is still buzzing with the designer’s Tokyo extravaganza. The new collection reinterpreted Christian Dior’s love for Japanese culture through multiple lenses, including cherry blossom prints (thought no one would make them look THIS fresh) and two kimono-inspired looks, made in leather. But Kim smoothly avoided Japan-related clichés, by focusing on today’s Japanese way of dressing – and the beloved, futurist aesthetic. Best prove of the latter: Japanese artist Hajime Sorayama created a 39-foot fembot sculpture for the runway’s set; a similar silver robot appeared as a print in the collection. Utility and workwear were represented via metallic harnesses with Dior’s signature chair caning at the back and robot-inspired jewellery. Very cosmic. But what’s most impressive about Jones’s work at Dior – which he already demonstrated last season – is the way he combines menswear easiness with couture level craftsmanship. A white astrakhan bomber that shaded into a toile de Jouy is something elegant, yet wearable, and surely with a out-of-this-world price tag. The more conservative, business-kind of Dior Men client will choose tailoring and (possibly) several of those asymmetrical suits.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s / The Big Debuts SS19

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Kate Moss, Lenny Kravitz and Naomi Campbell at Dior.

Just imagine how happy the people at LVMH are now. Both of the maisons they own, Louis Vuitton and Dior, earned such spotlight throughout the last few days that it’s unbelievable how much profit the luxury conglomerate gets in the upcoming months. Two names were on the lips of entire Paris this week: Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones. The first debuted at Vuitton with a more grown-up version of his Off-White, while the latter entered the house with a relevant ode to the founder of the house, Chritian Dior.

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Readers of this site know that I’m on fence with Virgil Abloh and his brand, Off-White. To me, it’s a streetwear label that effortlessly hits the luxury shelf (just like Vetements) and is quite deprived of genuine creativity (at least, speaking of the ready-to-wear stuff seen on the runways). Once it’s all about 90s Helmut Lang covered in prints, then it goes for such ‘of the moment’ trends like tulle. Still, kids love it, adults as well. Maybe it’s the question of aesthetics? I would surely love an Off-White hoodie few years ago, but now I’m into something completely else.

Now, straight to the topic. The Louis Vuitton show had a front row with a capital F: there was Kanye West, the Kardashians, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, just to name a few. The clothes were essentially Virgil, but more de luxe than usually. Neon harness, hoodies under blazers, sporty shorts, lots of new sneakers that will be ‘it’ sooner or later, a bunch of classical LV bags with chain handles. Basically, it’s all the stuff that brands like Louis Vuitton need right now: bold, not-to-deep-in-meaning pieces that the rich, young clientele will want in their lives. The only thing I truly appreciated about the collection was the model casting, that was beautifully, beautifully diverse. Still, in terms of Louis Vuitton fashion, I will cling to Nicolas Ghesquiere’s womenswear.

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In fact, Virgil Abloh is Kim Jones’ successor at Vuitton. Also, in private, they’re friends, so what really surprised me during this Paris fashion week was the lack of striking competition (both of the designers went to each other’s show, how cute!). Kim Jones had similar ways of luring everyone to take a look at his debut: celebrity-filled f-row (from Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Lenny Kravitz to Lily Allen and The xx), a fancy venue (this huge KAWS statue made of real flowers stood in the middle), famous models (like Prince Nikolai of Denmark, who opened the show). But actually, I want to thank Kim for making me look at a Dior show for longer than one minute (I mean, Maria Grazia Chiuri’s womenswear…). And you know what? There was lots to look at. In his collection, the designer paid tribute to Christian Dior, and such Dior predecessors as John Galliano, but in a smart, innovative way.

The dominant colours were signature pale Dior pink and porcelain blue. The toile de jouy created by Victor Grandpierre for Christian’s original boutique in 1947 appeared as the leading fabric for the shirts. Jones as well experimented with suits, nodding to Tailleur Oblique, Dior’s famous, diagonally wrapped ensemble from 1950. And then, my favourite part, there’s the iconic Dior Saddle Bag, now in more safe colours than the ones Galliano did, or converted into wallets (how commerce-wise!). Kim Jones wisely spent the time at the maison‘s archives, coming out with brilliant ideas. It’s also worth noting that he invited Yoon Ahn from Ambush to do the very cool jewellery, as well as Matthew Williams from Alyx to work on the buckles. Jones masterfully blended the past with contemporary, which I like. Maybe it wasn’t my favourite show of the season (even though it had some major highlights), but the newly appointed designer is on a very good path (just as Virgil, who will definitely rule with his LV, whether you love it or loathe it).

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All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Mr Porter US