"Be yourself because everyone else is already taken!"To dare, to stand out and to try to be yourself is perhaps the most difficult thing to do. Individuality is the only message that currently comes out of any Raf Simons collection. It is the ethos of the brand that tries to deliver a radical masculinity drawing its inspiration from youth subcultures and elements from traditional menswear. Simons's definition of beauty comes from what he calls interzone which is a place between extremes. Music, art, performance and words have a strong influence and an important role to play in his first collections and from the latest collections that has brought back these references. Pop Art slogans from the Spring Summer 2014 such as Super Nylon, Shape of Comfort or Artificially Flavoured have produced a monument re-defining menswear and pushing it to its limits. Teenage Rioters, Freaks and Ravers from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015 have replaced the traditional superheroes in the alphabet book of menswear adding a new dimension to it. This is time for Community Heroes to shine. It's like in LFO's song Freak where "this is going to make it freak". It is high time to break and to take a walk on the wild sides.
We know all about Raf Simons from his Jil Sander era to nowadays because that's how we have come across his work. But we want to go back to the past to the previous ten years to understand this particular place between extremes. His first collections told the story of his teenage obsessions for bands such as Kraftwerk and Joy Division. These two bands keep coming back currently in his collections being at their cores during different seasons. It is more than a simple tribute because the songs Radioactivity, Disorder, Confusion and Closer are translated as attitudes, statements and clothes reflecting individuality and independence. These collections were a sample of uniqueness and boldness that Simons had always looking for mixing tight, strictly and classical uniforms of the New Wave and Punk with historical garments for the AW1998/1999 Radioactivity collection for instance. The Fall 2000/2001 collection named Confusion presented aggressive silhouettes with models packed in different layers of heavy coats, camouflage coats, oversize shirts, sweaters (with some sewed printed pictures of Christiane F and others faces of "heroine chic") and heavy leather pants. The Fall2003/2004 called Closer found its echo in the collab with Raf Simons's friend and artist Sterling Ruby as he integrated personal works of Peter Saville mixing together rebellion and formal business look. His designs merge the past with a constant research for innovation regarding the look, the fabric and the proportion. That's the definition of modernity. After Rei Kawakubo, Raf Simons is the one we love the most because he always reminds us that what is cool is to be ourselves.