raf simons


I often get asked about my favorite collection, or where my “obsession” with Simons comes from. And it shouldn’t be confused, because there is definitely a certain obsession I have with the Raf Simons brand and the atmosphere he manages to create. But I eventually decided that I couldn’t choose just one collection. Although his clothes are impeccably tailored, or purposefully - and so wonderfully - untailored, his work is not about simple clothing. More important are moods, attitudes, references. His nods to society and youth cultures are especially obvious in his early work, while becoming less dominant after his F/W 2004-2005 collection, aptly named “Waves.” Nonetheless, Simons manages to create a message with every show, through music and sound, art, images, and words. Even the titles to his shows introduce each collection from an entirely different point of view. Together they clarify his message, and most importantly the type of individuality he wants to portray. Disagreeing with the typical, ideal sense of male beauty found within society, Simons only used non-professional models in the start of his career. His aesthetics for beauty and individuality have proven highly influential in men’s fashion throughout the years, not only for male models, but in menswear as well. Simply, as stated on the Raf Simons website, “at the core of his universe (and as essential as the clothes themselves) are statements.”

Truly, I hesitated writing this post. I was reluctant giving my (obviously biased) opinion on my fashion GOD, and of course, I wanted to avoid the “pretentious fashion blogger” label as much as possible. But at the same time, I wanted to do justice to the actual collections and designer whose work I completely admire and of course, indulge my personal opinions in Simons’ work. Therefore, and because I couldn’t choose just one collection, I decided to review two: Spring/Summer 2005-2006 and Autumn/Winter 2011-2012. Of course, his earlier archive collections are worth noting on, but I felt as if there were many fashion blogs available, with more complete (and probably more knowledgeable) reviews.


Spring/summer 2005 was titled, “History of the World.” When first reading the title it could be misleading. Due to the appearance of the word ‘history,’ one might think the collection referenced the past, but this is not the case, yet still it is completely appropriate in an ironic way. The collection introduced a different sort of Raf Simons man, especially when compared to the one presented in Simons’ S/S 2004 collection. Exploring an entirely different direction, with a seemingly direct and obvious focus on the future, clean and dramatic in its neutrality. In a certain way, there was an optimism due to the anti-nostalgia, pro-progress attitude the collection managed to showcase. Looking ahead with confidence, the tailoring incorporated slight references to space travel and gymnastics. Therefore, the silhouettes managed to strike a balance between formal menswear and experimental modernity. The season also saw the introduction of a range of shoes and accessories by Raf Simons. Spring/summer 2005 also influenced the following autumn/winter 2005-2006 collection, which was ultimately titled, “History of My World.” (A very personal favorite collection). The color palette, darker, proportions and silhouettes were experimented on. It was a collection, it was tailoring, for a new generation.


The A/W 2011 collection represented an important change for the Raf Simons brand. Futurepresent, the designer’s namesake company and its global master licensee, officially suspended relations with Raf Simons. “Rise of the Craftsman. Fall of the Prince. Dead Prince College,” the theme and subsequent invitation to the A/W11 collection, introduced a certain emotional and self relief to the brand. The soundtrack during the runway show eventually gave way to Nicki Minaj featuring Eminem’s, Like a Dungeon Dragon, not only making relevant references to the youth culture at the time, but also showcasing a certain teen angst via sound; a certain, “I’m going to do whatever the fuck I want, I don’t need you!” attitude. The clothes, almost disappointingly, were impeccably tailored and constructed. (Disappointingly, because the clothes are impossible to find!!!) Without a focus on any single color palette, Simons created a collection with structured tops and sweaters, multi-colored vests, scarves, prints, textures, and even high-shine PVC trousers. But beyond this, it seems the most important message Simons stressed was the artisanal quality, the “self” factor throughout the show. Several looks were paired with what I can only call Simons’ interpretation of an apron, hinting at the hard working individual. Representing a person’s self-sacrifice in his own work. Moreover, the entire collection was very youthful, including the styling. The model’s hair, purposefully messy, contrasting against the tailored and structured clothing, made for a unique yet familiar appeal. It implied the “collegiate” attitude, the persona and idea of the “student” who doesn’t quit for his ambition. Of course, we can only assume that Simons put these messages into his collection, subliminally, as the business relation with Futurepresent was terminated. But I like to imagine that the collection was Simons’ way to express his rise. His “rise of the craftsman.” He did not need the business, and he showed it. Unfortunately, though, because business with Futurepresent ended with Simons prior to showcasing A/W11, finding pieces from this collection is almost entirely impossible. Almost like buying archive pieces. But in some way, this collection, in my personal opinion, is one of Simons’ most special.

Ultimately, Raf Simons is personally, the most ultimate menswear designer. He is one of the few that actually advances fashion, and does it in such a distinct, direct, and intriguing way. In his cover issue of i-D magazine, he said, “…my label was very much linked to my own past and to my own environment, which was not as corporate-city-slick as Helmut’s. It was dirtier, darker, more underground…There was a feeling of schoolboys and Catholicisim, village and college.” I believe that he’s actually been able to carry these influences, this environment, and still create new messages with his clothes. Simons influences both sexes - his work at Jil Sander and current position at Christian Dior are different matters entirely, on which I cannot even begin to comprehend or comment on - and manages to have a voice. Nevertheless, I probably haven’t clarified my feelings for Simons’ work with this post, and hopefully, maybe I will get there, but I do feel as if I’ve shared my thoughts with a couple of his collections. The two I chose, I decided on because I felt they were 1) disregarded by many, and 2) influential in Simons’ actual brand. Understandably, I’m not anyone to comment on or make a decision on “RAF SIMONS,” and as such, these are just personal opinions. But that aside, Raf Simons is, and always will be king.