Men’s – Solar Youth. Raf Simons AW20

Raf Simons‘ autumn-winter 2020 collection had a transporting, emotional quality, because the character he envisioned appeared to no longer inhabit our world yet they dressed as though they were trying to wear something of the Earth’s past. Departing at Blade Runner and making other narrative stops along the way, this was Simons venturing beyond his obsession with youth. Emerging from a glowing yellow tunnel into a minimalist yellow venue, some models had their hands  muffs, a rather anachronistic accessory (be sure that it’s coming back to us next winter!).  Positioned front and center, they communicated a crucial piece of information about these people, the “Solar Youth”. If you think this sounds positive, the show notes meant quite the opposite: they don’t want you to know who you are. One theory is that they left the earth as children from our past and awoke as an elite community of our future. This might explain why their attire was at turns elegant, nostalgic, and noir-sci-fi. Silvery high-neck base layers were visible under the impeccable, imposing military-style coats. Sweaters and scarves were juxtaposed with tubular knits that encased the arms. White, red, pistacchio boots (from Simons’ new shoe line, (RUNNER)) a remniscent of a space-suit. Several blazers and collegiate jackets were shielded under clear filmy plastic, creating a refined, corset-like silhouette. The outer-space chic is here.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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 – Corporate Killers. Raf Simons SS20

Corporate chairs, violently covered with black tape, were placed all over the show venue. “Big lie… media America, corporate America… fascist America” spoke the mysterious voice as part of the soundtrack. Was Raf Simons about to sent down a line-up of corporate killers? It rather seemed like an underground tribe of rebellious boys who were about to fight with the old, power-holding white men, who block individuality. From one side, you could perceive this collection as Simons’ comeback to his comfort zone: defiant teenagers in rage. But from the other side, this might have been a cumulation of feelings gathered after the designer’s abrupt exit from Calvin Klein, which happened nearly a year ago. Today, Raf is again his own boss, and he’s sure of one thing: he despises corporate, capitalist America. “STONE(E)D AMERICA” sign appeared on a number of garments, while the hospital gowns and coats had “RS-LAB” labels on. The t-shirts were splattered with red paint, the knits were ripped, shorts were styled with heavy boots (as if the boys were off for a long crusade). Some models wore red scientist gloves – maybe Simons nodded to handling radioactive chemicals in this dystopian vision? This was a collection with a message, with emotions, but simultaneously is full of deadly good clothes. Raf doesn’t dissapoint.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Loud. Raf Simons AW19

While everybody expected to see something rather melancholic from Raf Simons this season, just a month after his abrupt, yet understandable exit from Calvin Klein, the designer surprised us all with a collection that’s experimental, bold and as loud as Whispering Sons – a Belgian post-punk band that played live during the show. Even Laura Dern screamed in the David Lynch film stills that were scattered all over the garments. Not only drama’s up in Raf’s autumn-winter 2019 collection. Volume as well. But in case of the designer, this doesn’t neccesarily means a bunch of XXL sweatshirts (that I actually no longer can look at this season…). Yes, Simons makes tailoring great again, especially when it comes to coats. Whether in satin, camel or leopard print, the silhouette is nearly floor-sweeping and utterly entrance-making. While the Instagram feed went mad for the blush-pink ensemble, I personally fell in love with the black, woollen number tied with a matching belt. Love seeing Raf doing Raf

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.