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31 Dec

Raf Simons Shutters Namesake Label

LONDON — Belgian dressmaker Raf Simons revealed Monday on Instagram that he’s shutting down his own label after “a unprecedented 27-year journey.”

The spring 2023 show staged during Frieze London last month will probably be the designer’s last collection for his own brand.

“I lack the words to share how proud I’m of all that we’ve achieved. I’m grateful for the incredible support from my team, from my collaborators, from the press and buyers, from my family and friends, and from our devoted fans and constant followers. Thanks all, for believing in our vision and for believing in me,” the designer said.

Simons launched his namesake label in 1995. The designer kept growing his brand while working for major fashion houses including Jil Sander, Dior and Calvin Klein.

Pieces from Simons’ early years often fetch high prices on resale sites and through auctions. In 2020, he reissued some 100 pieces of his signature designs throughout the years, including the high-profile collaboration with Sterling Ruby.

Andrew Groves, director of the menswear archive on the University of Westminster, said the moment he heard the news, he immediately considered the film “Control,” which is in regards to the lifetime of Ian Curtis, the singer of the late-Nineteen Seventies English post-punk band Joy Division.

“Not only is Joy Division so entwined with Simons’ work, but this final move by Simons is definitely about control. It has, in spite of everything, been what has driven his profession during the last 27 years, it’s in his approach to design, presentation, and communication,” Groves said.

“His work for me has all the time embodied the turbulent emotions of adolescence, bubbling just beneath the surface yet all the time slightly below control. When other designers have left their namesake brands, akin to Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela, these have continued to greater or lesser success, and I can understand Simons’ desire for his brand to not suffer the identical fate,” he added.

Groves also suspects that there will probably be a second act. “Much like how Latest Order emerged from the demise of Joy Division, I’m hoping that is merely a prelude to something else, something unusual and surprising,” he said.

A picture from the Prada spring 2021 digital show.

Courtesy of Prada

Simons will proceed to work at Prada, where he was named co-creative director of the brand in February 2020, working in partnership with Miuccia Prada “with equal responsibilities for creative input and decision making,” the corporate said on the time. The primary codesigned collection was unveiled digitally for spring 2021 during Milan Fashion Week.

The recruitment of Simons suggested that Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, co-chief executive officer of the Prada Group, were readying a succession plan on the Italian fashion house. Nonetheless, asked if she was eyeing retirement sooner or later, the designer brushed off the suggestion.

Prada has described Simons’ contract with the home as “in theory, it’s without end.”

It is known that Prada is increasingly focused on Miu Miu, although to not the detriment of Prada. She continues to be involved within the design of each labels.

The designers’ partnership underlines the strong complicity between Simons and the Prada Group, which originally tapped him to turn out to be creative director of Jil Sander in 2005 when the group owned that brand.

Simons and Prada have also enjoyed an extended friendship.

They share an analogous aesthetic hinged on modernism and sometimes futurism. Additionally they share a passion for contemporary art and carry a torch for daring creative expression, and occasional provocation.

Raf Simons RTW Spring 2023

Raf Simons RTW Spring 2023

Yu Fujiwara/WWD

For his own spring 2023 collection, which was postponed from London Fashion Week to Frieze as a consequence of the national mourning for Queen Elizabeth II, Simons invited greater than 1,000 guests. They gathered at Printworks, the cult party venue in Canada Water, southeast London, where Simons conjured a Berghain-style moment.

Guests gathered within the vast, cavernous venue around long black bars and drank beer and cocktails out of paper cups. Just before the show began, those bars were transformed into one long runway.

The designer’s obsession with mega-shoulders and massive proportions appears to be over. As a substitute, there have been numerous clean lines, minimal tailored jackets, and skirts paired with shiny leggings in primary colours. A lineup of romper suits was constituted of fine-gauge knits, as light as lingerie, or breezy cotton.

Fans, though, would still have recognized spring 2023 as a Raf Simons show, albeit a more stripped-down version.

Models strode down the elevated bar-cum-catwalk in sleeveless coats in shiny red or pale blue; classic double-breasted coats that Simons does every season; fishnet T-shirts, and cotton dresses and sleeveless tops with graffiti artwork, the fruit of a collaboration with the estate of the late Belgian painter Philippe Vandenberg.

Raf Simons RTW Spring 2023

Raf Simons RTW Spring 2023

Yu Fujiwara/WWD

Born in distant Neerpelt, Belgium, Simons moved to Genk and obtained a level in industrial and furniture design in 1991. Drawn to the energy of the Antwerp Six, who put Belgium on the international fashion map, he segued from furniture into fashion and launched a street-inspired collection of menswear in 1995.

He began showing it in Paris two years later, and quickly caused a sensation along with his skinny tailoring, street casting, and such imposing runway venues as La Grande Arche de la Défense.

A darling of critics and editors, prized for his exacting silhouettes and obsession with the here and now, Simons took up the creative director role at Jil Sander in 2005, where his designs were a critical success but not all the time commercially. In 2012, he was tapped to succeed John Galliano as Dior’s sixth couturier after the British designer’s antisemitic comments and subsequent downfall. Simons brought a gust of modernity to the home, sweeping aside the retro-tinged glamour Galliano had plied over a stellar 15-year tenure. He continuously referenced iconic Dior designs just like the Bar jacket, in addition to floral motifs — but abstracted them and indulged his predilection for minimalism and futurism.

High fashion looks from Raf Simons’ fall-winter 2012 collection photographed by Patrick Demarchelier.

Patrick Demarchelier

After leaving Dior in 2015, Simons joined Calvin Klein a yr later and served as chief creative officer there for 3 years. He left the style brand in December 2018 after tension grew between him and PVH Corp., Calvin Klein’s parent company.

On the time, Emanuel Chirico, chairman and CEO of PVH Corp said, in somewhat blunt terms on the corporate’s earnings call, that the reimagined Calvin Klein — under Simons’ direction — was not working.

He said the gathering, renamed 205W39NYC, needed to turn out to be more industrial, and that investments in the gathering and promoting could be shifted elsewhere. Sources indicated that Simons caused plenty of havoc in the corporate and overspent on every little thing.

Calvin Klein Reveals 205W39NYC Campaign for Fall

A fall image from 205W39NYC campaign.

Willy Vanderpeere

In November 2019, Simons made his first public appearance after leaving Calvin Klein at a fashion conference in Antwerp.

Simons, who also lives in the town, shared his opinions in regards to the state of the style system, the creativity and value behind a design, and the importance of staying independent and supporting the brand new generation, in addition to his frustration and reflection on his previous positions at Jil Sander and Dior.

While he didn’t mention Calvin Klein during his 35-minute talk, between the lines, his views seemed clear. 

“These big brands are very much now driven by marketing and growth, and it’s rare that a designer is nice in each features. I’m definitely not good in any respect features,” he said.

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