The fashion industry mourns an insurmountable loss as Raf Simons announced the closure of his visionary namesake label after 27 years. Adored and celebrated by celebrities and fashion lovers alike, Raf Simons’ unequivocal influence on the fashion industry was unparalleled.
The news was issued via a standalone instagram grid post yesterday. “The Spring/Summer 2023 collection is the conclusion of an extraordinary 27-year journey and the final season of the Raf Simons fashion brand,”Simons stated. The post was entitled “Memory Wear 1995 Station to Station Alda & Jacques”, marking the date of his label’s launch and honouring his parents Alda & Jacques Simons.
Fans of the designer were shocked to hear that his last Spring/Summer 2023 collection which was proposed to be shown during London Fashion Week, yet was rescheduled to due HRH Queen Elizabeth II’s death, was his last. The unexpected ending was, however, fitting and an adequate homage to the spirit of Raf Simons and his initial desires for the brand. A fruitful and buoyant homage to youth cultures. His closing show, a nonhierarchical rave,with a bar turned runway, featuring every creative that creates the zeitgeist. With students, artists, designers, musicians, DJs, and fashion lovers and more present and spirited.
In honour of the beautiful and poignant legacy left by the label, we’re remembering the top five moments of Raf Simons the label.
RAF SIMONS’ EPONYMOUS LABEL LAUNCHED IN 1995
The Belgian designer born in Neerpelt, with an apparent proclivity for design began as an furniture designer for interiors and galleries after graduating from Industrial Design and Furniture Design from LUCA School of Arts in 1991. Being convinced to turn to fashion by former head of the fashion department at Antwerp Royal Academy Linda Loppa and Walter Van Beirendonck, Antwerp Six member, Simons was enamoured by the spirit and vigour of the fashion industry after his first show, Martin Margiela’s 1991 show. Thus his self-taught menswear label was born.
RAF SIMONS’ FIRST COLLECTION ON 8MM FILM
Raf Simons’ first collection for AW95/96 presented at the Daniele Ghiselli showroom in Milan via an 8mm film. Rife with nothing but a novel genius and effective simplicity. The video itself was filled with rawness and creativity as his love for youthful tailoring was apparent. The approximately seven minute video featured two streetcast male models in a white room presenting his pieces. The 8mm film was simple yet effective and the industry was then privy to the genius that is Raf Simons.
RAF SIMONS’ FIRST RUNWAY SHOW IN PARIS
Two years after the label’s impactful collection presentation, Simons took his menswear label to Paris. Raf Simons’ first menswear fashion show was staged at Impasse de Mont-Louis for AW 97/98. The collection did what Raf does best, relaxed and purposeful tailoring and the reintroduction of ideas in different formats. Featuring shirts, cropped knitwear, blazers and the Belgian minimalism but elevated, by this stage the designer had the fashion industry hooked.
THE LABEL’S FIRST TWO FLAGSHIP STORES
In 2008, the global success of Raf Simons was cemented with two physical flagship stores in Japan. The standalone stores in Aoyama, Tokyo and in Osaka were created in collaboration with Sterling Ruby and Roger Hiorns. The Tokyo store saw L.A. based artist Ruby covering the space with enhancing distorted wallpaper enacting a negative vs. positive take. Treated fabric was photographed and then the negatives utilised to create the wallpaper with the artists using the discarded fabric to make boxes for Raf’s garments.
The Osaka store however, was treated by Hiorns. This store utilised the staff as working models as a 9 metre long ‘crying tears’ mirror cut the space in half as reflective film covered the store. Artistic genius was prevalent as the clothes were veiled in order for them to be perceived in a non-static way by the public.
RAF SIMONS X COLLABORATIONS
The brand’s undeniable genius and effects has been acknowledged worldwide and as such it has seen numerous collaborations. The label has created collections for and with varying notable individuals. From a partnership with British menswear brand Fred Perry in 2008 to creating sleek and illustrious sunglasses with Linda Farrow, Simons and his brand have experienced no shortage of partnerships and creative expeditions. Even taking over the sportswear domain and placing Simons’ print on contrasting and distinct aesthetics. From their Asics collab to the Adidas x Raf Simons Osweego shoes and more.
Artistic aspirations and experiments continued with the brand as Sterling Ruby was once again present for another partnership in 2009 and then again in 2014. 2009 saw the pair utilising the artist’s unique bleached signature style to manufacture bleached denim for a capsule collection. Then again in 2014 the brand replaced its regular scheduled showing with a large-scale collection collaboration for AW14, entitled, “Raf Simons/Sterling Ruby”.
Brand fraternisation continued as 2014 presented ‘The Kvadrat/Raf Simons collection’, as Kvadrat the Danish textile and design company, aligned themselves with the label and were even featured in their AW 15 menswear show.
Raf Simons’ brand legacy will undoubtedly prevail for many years to come. From copious amounts of collaborations to inspiring generations of youth as the label defied the label of being a minimalist Belgian brand to successfully recontextualising things we associate with other subcultures. From taking bomber jackets, balaclavas, shirts and suit jackets. Taking them from their prescribed aesthetics to turn them into genreless items. Fawned over amply, with even a song dedicated to the designer and label by collective A$AP Mob – ‘RAF’, even including A$ap Rocky, the label defied classifications and will be yearned for by the fashion industry for years to come.
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