(Raf Simons was) born in 1968. He studied industrial design in Genk, Belgium, majoring in furniture design. He worked as an intern under designer Walter Van Beirendonck in Paris. Later he worked as a furniture designer and established his own brand in 1995 after being introduced by Linda Loppa, head of the fashion design at the Royal Academy of Fine Ms in Antwerp. He has participated in Paris Collections since 97-98 MN.
It's 10 years since Raf Simons made his Paris runway debut with a collection of British schoolboy looks. Having amassed huge popularity as a member of a new generation of cutting edge designers, the Belgian is now set to take over the reigns at the Jil Sander brand.
The latest collection was held in Florence at the Boboli Gardens, right behind the Pitti palace and was appropriately grand for a ten-year anniversary show. "It was my first time to show in Italy so I thought a lot about how to present my label there," explains Simons. "In terms of the presentation, the beautiful views of Italy's outdoors, and its parks, came to mind. Then, the Felini movie "Setyricon" came to mind." Set in ancient Rome, "Setyricon" depicts debauched feats and decadence in a surreal piece of Felini's cinematic sorcery: With the classical scenery of the park in the backdrop, models descended a flight of stone steps showing off a fusion of ancient Roman and futuristic looks in what was a highly accomplished collection.
"I mixed work from previous collections, Greek mythology and 20th century elements - I wanted to give it a contemporary look." explains Simons. "I unraveled 10 years of my history, and incorporated little ideas and techniques. For example, the "Black Palms" collection of 98 S/S, it was just after I started and it was a funky collection. It was an experimental, futuristic look with the past as a source. Then another one was the Greek myth of Icarus. He dreamed of being able to fly, and made wings from feathers and wax, but while he was flying he got carried away and flew too close to the sun which caused the wax to melt and he fell into the sea. Well, that's just the story from the myth. I wanted to point out a more positive angle, with a future".
That led to the lattice shirts and knits where you can see the skin, made from woven linen. The structured jackets also have a very modern finish. He raided his 10-year archive of stuff he's been making since he was a boy fresh out of Belgium and developed those pieces until they would make a mature-looking collection. Like Icarus with his dreams of flight, the future looks bright for Raf Simons.
His appointment as Creative Director at Jil Sander was announced long before the recent collection and was a hot topic for fashionistas. Simons seems to be comfortable about heading up a big team under the auspices of the Prada Group. "My first job will be getting used to the company environment," he says. "I'm looking into the Jil Sander archives now, and I'm at the stage of getting to grips with the vibe and the people working there." Simons seems completely at ease when talking about this latest undertaking. "I'm very grateful for having been given such a relaxed environment even before I've actually started creating anything. Also, the team is really together so it's all going to be fine. I'm totally mentally prepared. Just tell me what you think of the collection in January!"
Another development for Simons is a diffusion line called Raf by Raf Simons. "It's made up of the sweats and print T-shirts that up until now were part of the main line," he says. "From here on I want to replace those items in the main collection with experiments with fabric and new techniques, it should help me to make things with a stronger story." Simons certainly seems to be ambitious for his next 10 years in the fashion business. There seems to be not a shred of trepidation in him, rather, he is looking forward to the next act of the great Raf Simons myth with a positive and calm frame of mind.
A.PDF Clippings is a project aimed to convert archival magazine segments into digital form, leading to greater search-ability and discoverability in the online landscape. If you would like to submit your own clippings, please contact us via our Contributors Form.
Scan Provider: Manic Maniac Man
Original Source: GAP Mens Press SS06, Paris and Milan Mens Collection