Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Simons as a man for all seasons

"When I think about menswear and its universe the person that makes me think far beyond what is possible and what can be made possible is Raf Simons of whom you left out in your post. His training and his discipline alone has really carried out this lucid path for younger designers such as Ervell to make their own niche and success."

Following my last post on the Patrik Ervell feature in the latest issue of Man About Town, Mike H, a new commenter, left the above paragraph. I could not agree more. Funnily enough, even before this comment had been left I had begun drafting a post on Raf Simons. Once again I had been inspired by a thought provoking feature in Life's a Beach - The Winter Sun Issue. A Man For All Seasons celebrates one of the most influential designers.

There has never been a bad Raf Simons collection. Merely quite good ones, very good ones and a few that have set new standards in modern fashion. He is quite simply one of the great innovators. As a designer, Simons' clothes are instantly recognisable by their uncompromising modern edge which seems him blend his admiration for the underground European pop culture of the 70s and 80s with his quest to define the times we live in.  There is much that makes Simons unique but it his ability to engineer fashion change while never really changing himself. His ideas of youth culture and angst are ever constant regardless of whether he is designing for his eponymous label or under the name of Jil Sander.

As you should all know by now, both of us are interested in the interplay between the social constructs of masculinity with style and menswear. Fashion often challenges the hegemonic ideals and this is no more apparent than in the designs of Raf Simons. Within menswear you can't pull any tricks and Simons concedes that he puts limits on himself because of what society thinks a man should be. Thankfully, Simons personally doesn't know exactly what a man should be. This questioning is precisely why he will tweak and experiment with his design, be that by casting rakish teens to model his collections to spark trends for skinny boy tailoring or exploring how men can adopt more feminine ways of dressing without falling in to the more obvious trap falls.

A Man For All Seasons. Photography by Willy Vanderperre and styling by Olivier Rizzo. All looks from Jil Sander AW10.

Simons is a designer who isn't so interested in designing clothes. That sentence might sound odd at first but all becomes clear when you look through his body of work. Simons is a designer interested in visualising an idea, a concept and an ideology.


giancinephile said...

Well, certainly given those things about Simons, that's what gives him a timeless appeal not only to the fashion crowd but also to those who are not so keen on fashion.

Designers who make clothes that aren't necessarily inspired by fashion-related references often yield more interesting results. And in a society plagued by redundancy, designers like Simons would always remind us that there are always those interesting minority of romantics, radicals, cultural avant-gardes, and the like actively resisting the hegemony.

Fashion Philosopher said...

I found an interesting article on a blog called Hapsical. He really loves Raf Simons. He put together a history of the brand. Very informative. Here the link:


Brandon Acton-Bond said...

Thanks for this Steve. Raf is certainly one of the few true designers whether in mens or womens. That blog above Hapsical is just the biggest Raf fanboy I've ever seen and it's kind of amazing. Also how right is he about the younger generation not have problems mixing gender and gender transformation!


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