Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images
Perhaps the most amazing thing an important designer can do is to stop making fashion. Both Helmut Lang and Martin Margiela quit at age 50 after selling their businesses a few years ago. Although Margiela was deeply involved in the 2018 museum designs as well as the documentary, both have since become artists. This week, Raf Simons announced that he is ending his label after 27 years; His Spring 2023 collection will be his last. Simons, 55, isn’t leaving fashion — he’s still co-director of Prada. Because the announcement on Instagram did not give a reason, speculations focused on financial problems and / or Miuccia Prada may soon retire.
This is of course just a guess. Simons’s Antwerp business, though small, showed no sign of weakness. And anyone who has spoken to Prada in the past year or so knows that she loves collaborating with Simons. If anything, they’ve redefined what a creative partnership at the highest level can be. Having known Simmons for nearly two decades, I have no doubt that the decision to close was devastating to him, he thought deeply. But, in the end, it’s a positive step, an opportunity to devote his time and passion and intellectual interests to other things.
Still, the news prompted all sorts of reactions. As I write, the number of comments on the brand’s Instagram — where all previous posts have been deleted since the announcement — is up to 6,893. They express a mixture of love and shock (“BRO WHAT THE FUCK”) and even the odd cringe (“Finally!!!!!”). A few people called it “the end of an age.” In a broad sense, this is true. Since the 1980s, the industry has championed independent and original talent as large luxury conglomerates dominate. And their strategy is to promote a sense of novelty when the things surrounding the runway show — theatrics, marketing, celebrities — are little in fact new or unique. A similar act of disappearance occurs in other fields of creation, such as the obituary Times He noticed the great art director George Lois, who died last week.
In his mid-’90s, Siemens was also a visionary, albeit narrower in scope – trained on thin, independent-looking young men in his adopted city of Antwerp. It took me a long time to understand what made his vision unique. When I joined New York in 1999, I started covering his collections. Times, so I miss the early shows like “Black Palms” and “Kinetic Youth”, which emphasizes the choice of special slim black tailoring and taking on the road. Although I’ve covered women’s fashion for years, the men’s shows in Paris were new to me and I dove head first.
Slim Fit and Tailoring Spring 2005.
Photo: Mitchell Sams/Camera Press/Redux
Hedi Slimane was at Yves Saint Laurent then, and I remember snapping him in a lightweight gray sweater from the YSL boutique in Saint-Sulpice during a shopping run with Andre Leon Talley. Junya Watanabe was doing smart things; Jean Paul Gaultier was still making tricks. It was an exciting time, and then Slimane moved on to Dior Homme. I wrote about Simon, but in a way that failed me watch out As he showed shortly before 9/11, the face mask and sweatshirt behind the speech is as terrifying and over-layered as it gets. Or his 2004 collection of wyebegoan hippies called “Sidhartha” in the park. To the point, I didn’t bother to investigate.
Then in 2004, a friend of mine, the journalist Richard Buckley, said to me, “Go and look at Raf’s early collections.” I think he was shocked by my men’s coverage, but it was too cool to say. Anyway, at that point, following his surprise show in July 2004, I decided to write a profile of Simons, predicting the future of men’s fashion in a reliable way. I asked a publicist named Cookie De Salverts to send me the tapes, and one day a box of VHS tapes arrived at my door.
I remember sitting in the kitchen watching Simon’s second collection, 8mm. Filmed at a friend’s house, it features a friend, stylist Olivier Rizzo (he holds the lights) and another close friend, up-and-coming designer Véronique Branquin, in a gorgeous black pantsuit. The place was a party. I remember thinking, and I still do, that it was one of the most charming and true expressions of modern dress I had ever seen. The video, titled “16, 17, How to Talk to Your Young,” featured a group of well-dressed teenagers skateboarding after school. At that time, very few designers were experimenting with that medium, or conceiving a different world based on something real and truly modest. They were often on flights of fancy.
“He did everything before anyone else, and everyone else copied him,” stylist Marie-Amelie Save told me in the newspaper. Times profile, published in 2005, when Simmons was creative director at Jil Sander. In the end it doesn’t matter who does it first. What matters is that you see or feel things closely and have the nerve to act on them – ignore common sense. One such collection is the Spring 2009 collection. Probably my all-time favorite Simmons show, a masterclass in tailoring and men in tailored black t-shirts and biker shorts. The look was certainly ahead of its time – stylistically elevated Demna T-shirts by Balenciaga, JW Anderson in 1998. His 2013 monochromatic collection also predicted a shift to skinny shorts and full body exposure.
A collection with artist Sterling Ruby for Fall 2014.
Photo: Dominique Charriau/WireImage
One of the many things that has been consistent about Simon over the years is his ability to observe and analyze things closely. He is not distracted or surprised by many things, and he still believes that what is important is fashion, not the things around him. So while I’m a little sad that Raf Simons will soon be history, I know the ideals the brand has embraced will live on. How did they fail?