Raf Simons S/S 2016

Looking back to look forward

Being inspired by older gentleman is not such a common idea in fashion, or indeed in most of today’s creative disciplines; whether fine art, dance, photography and in cinema. Which is one of the several reasons one found the latest Raf Simons show so refreshing. Since the inspiration for the collection were Raf’s two grandfathers.


Neat tailoring with elephant pants Raf Simons
Neat tailoring with elephant pants

Raf, like the author of this review, never knew either of his grandfathers, since they had passed before he was born. Yet, his sense of them – culled from family photos, memories and tales, underpinned and enriched this show. Whose central leitmotif was the quiet elegance of elderly men; their prim neatness, their pride in wearing clothes that had lasted several generations. Then again, at least in film, there is the fine example of the great master Akira Kurosawa, two of whose greatest films, Dersu Uzala and Ikiru, where exactly about the nobility of final actions of a man approaching their death.

Beautiful coats throughout the show Raf Simons
Beautiful coats throughout the show

What hit the catwalk, though, felt brand new – especially a great series of elongated coats, finished in broken check patterns. Simons paired these with the most elephantine of elephant pants; along with super skinny knit sweaters and tank tops. The very sort of clobber an older gent – as the later years trimmed fat – could happily ease into. As indeed could these hirsute models. Humungous new backpacks and dozens of huge sea-chains added to the freaky allure. Chains appeared too around the neck of the show’s biggest celebrity: New York Knicks’ basketball star, Amar’e Stoudemire, who looked suitably avant-garde in a custom-made Raf sweatshirt.

Raf Simons has become a resource for fine knitwear
Raf Simons has become a resource for fine knitwear

Most commendable too was the staging: a mammoth garage/studio structure in a funky suburb kitted out with a small forest of movie lights. However, somewhat absurdly, Raf covered half the models heads in checked tea towels, obstructing their views with the almost inevitable result that two of them crashed off the raised catwalk to considerable alarm. And that is not supposed to happen. Daft styling, which is unfair to the poor models, too.