Raf Simons is so grown up

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Fashion people talk a lot about the beauty of things, especially in the 90s. But isn’t it great how many of the best designers in history are working today, today? Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela may have abandoned us for the cold and pedantic embrace of the art world, but Rick Owens, Miuccia Prada, Yohji Yamamoto and Raf Simons are building history with their biennial collections. Sure, some Legends are in their era of the flop, but many of our best thinkers are there and energetic, not only with something to say, but doing the most interesting job they’ve ever done. We are trained not to feel the monumentality of someone’s work until they are no longer alive. (We’re in an age of advanced obituaries!) But it’s a joy to time it in real time.

 

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Simons, in particular, is in one of the most exciting and bizarre times of his career. For the past year he has been working as the co-creative director of Prada. This is an unprecedented creative partnership in fashion, art, business and, frankly, thought, which I don’t think the world fully appreciated. Most brands, at least nominally, promote their clothes as the product of a creative deity, every collection, right down to handbags, reflecting the ideas of a singular genius. (A few designers, like Jonathan Anderson, who likes to talk about his Loewe artisans, and collectives like Vetements and Vaquera, are turning the tide.) But each Prada collection, suggests the Simons-Prada partnership, is a dialogue between two designers with simpatico des personalities but different goals and ways of thinking about clothes. Most of the media seem to interpret it simply as a succession plan, or as a group effort to find the right “balance”. That doesn’t seem like what they have in mind at all – it seems to me that they are looking at this world oversaturated with collaboration and trying to reframe the very nature of creative exchange and generation of ideas.

Courtesy of Raf Simons
Courtesy of Raf Simons

Of course, we’re not here to talk about Prada but Simons’ fall 2021 show, which made its video debut on Wednesday. This is his second collection for women, and his second since joining Prada, and it was also one of his finest in a long time – a posh take on the joys of aging. Here we had many Simons staples – the snood, oversized outerwear, oversized sweater, machine-churned color palette – but presented in an almost pompous reprieve from long journeys into the teenage psyche. which have defined a lot in his career. In the first part of the show, a quilted jacket set the tone – a must-have for outdoor enthusiasts that has become, in the hands of whimsical, rich men’s brands like Hermes, Brunello Cucinelli and Burberry, the outerwear. of choice for the frosty rich Europeans. . (See my cult favorite Instagram account, @granniesofvienna, for proof.) The bells that were meant to evoke the power of teenage flowers on her spring 2021 show here had an adult-misbehaving vibe. It was almost sexy – but more importantly, imbued with the mystique of adulthood, a magical part of life filled with more expensive handbags, fine leather shoes, rippling rich silhouettes and fitted looks that suggest a sophisticated lunch instead of a business meeting.

Courtesy of Raf Simons

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