What Raf Simons is doing with fashion is something unprecedented. Yes, the act of creating anything is always going to be autobiographical at its root, but the way Simons has been exploring his past is on a higher plane. It is so arcane and so specific, and yet at the same time it touches on a consciousness that comes to everyone with time. Age gives you the perspective to understand what it was you were actually doing when you were young.
"Youth on a pedestal." That was Simons" off-the-cuff explanation of the staging of his show tonight, with its catwalk raised high above the crowd. The models wore almost-floor-length looks—coats, gilets—which elongated them still further for the audience that was gathered at their feet. We stood anywhere we cared to for the duration of the presentation. So did the photographers.
Simons instantly regretted the glibness of his words, but he was only cutting to the quick of his aesthetic. He has always been driven by the beauty and passion of youth, alongside an acceptance of its passing, which has loaned his work its air of melancholy. Simons has always loved the community of youth. "I"m an only child," he reminded us tonight. It"s why music was so important to him. Your allegiance to musicians was how you defined yourself, first in your bedroom and then in your school, your bar, your club, long before you knew anything about fashion.
"I wish there could be 10,000 people here tonight," Simons said of the warehouse on the outskirts of Paris where he staged his show. "A gathering of people, the way it was in the beginning." That would have been an amazing sight: thousands moving to Deep Purple"s "Child in Time," a 45-year-old track that is as majestic now as it was to baby acidheads in 1970. Which was surely the point that Simons and sound designer Michel Gaubert wanted to make. "Child in Time" made the notion of "relevance" irrelevant. The collection set out to do the same.
Its key item was a long white cotton coat, thoroughly graffitied with slogans and cartoons. Utterly mystifying, until you heard Simons" explanation. In Belgium, there is a "celebration" of your first 100 days at college, when boys from the second and third years test your physical and mental limits—hazing, in other words. (For Simons" "celebration," he and four others had their feet buried in buckets of plaster that set rock-hard, forcing the five to stand upright for an entire day till their persecutors handed them hammers to crack their way out. Other newbies are less fortunate. Lives have been lost.) The persecutors wear long white coats scrawled with slogans.
Stylist Olivier Rizzo, who with photographer Willy Vanderperre forms a trinity of decades-long shared experience with Simons, misted up as the coats came down the catwalk. "This is one part of his past that Raf hasn"t touched on," he noted. The part that memory plays in Simons" collections has become more pointed with the passage of time. There was much here that offered oblique amplification. For the first time, there were women on a Raf Simons catwalk. That was him thinking back to Helmut Lang, one of the people who most influenced him. Martin Margiela, another significant influence, made his presence felt in gilets that eroded from precise tailoring to a mess of ragged hems. Order and chaos: Simons is riveted by the dichotomy.
Quite how it all related to Simons" place in the fashion world—ultimate indie here, kingpin of Dior there—was a moot point. You wouldn"t want to say the designer hankers for the days when restrictions (or "non-opportunities," as he calls them) spurred his creativity, but there is that picture he paints of kids like himself back then going down to the market to cobble together their own versions of the designer looks they couldn"t afford to buy. They"re still doing it now, because it"s the eternal romance of hard-done-by, misunderstood, plucky kid stuff. And no one sells it like Simons.Welcome to visit my Coach Outlet Online store: http://official.uscoachoutletbags.com