Raf Simons has always been one to do it his way: regardless of trends, regardless of norms and expectations, and to a certain extent, regardless of his audience. His garments are futuristic, yet somehow intrinsically nostalgic. He has an eye for the unexpected, yet when he designs, he has a way of hinting to the familiar.
This season, Simons created a collection in collaboration with his long time friend, the American artist Sterling Ruby. The collection was like a piece of their minds, the fusion of their personalities and a glimpse into their outlook and impressions of our present societal impulses, with regards to consumerism, dress, art and lifestyle.
On a runway over which hung and fell the soft and elongated sculptures created by Ruby for the occasion, the models proudly sported the partnership of these two great talents. Deconstructed American flags on sculptures, space-inspired patches sewn on fabrics, camouflage prints and splattered dye all contributed to a feeling of a new-frontier and fearless Americana myth.
Classic elements such a trench coats and pea coats are given a new life, revamped by slightly offset proportions and patch working. Matching shirt silhouettes even evoked prisoner jumpsuits worn by models lugging duffel bags, like the uniform of a new and liberated worker. Oversized colourful plastic shoes finished off the looks in an almost clown-like manner, which seriously proved the audacity of the designers.
With clear references to Ruby’s galactic and spattered paint canvases, the collection succeeded in bringing together an eclectic combination of his creative signatures. It seemed as if Ruby had entered Raf’s world, fully understanding his design vocabulary, without having to sacrifice the integrity and force of his normally large-scale installation work. Inversely, Raf thrived in capturing Ruby’s kingdom, translating it into wearable, functional pieces of clothing, which perfectly fit into his brand’s ethos. How inspirational it is to see that a merging of the worlds of fashion and art is possible, without the intentions of one becoming overruled by the codes of the other.
Photography: Courtesy of PR Consulting