Raf Simons is free! As he answered a journalist asking for an interview backstage to his more than brilliant Autumn Winter 16 show "I have so much time now!". This freedom can be felt in every single silhouette of this much awaited (and this is an understatement) collection, the first after his shocking departure from Dior, a few months ago. As you can tell by the note given to the audience before the show (Raf Simons is not accustomed to such a thing), his inspirations are numerous and varied (they go from Cindy Sherman to Martin Margiela, from Scream to David Lynch, from college boys to punks...) but they are all looking in the same direction: USA. The American Dream and its hidden face. The not so glamourous face. The disturbing one. This side is perfectly represented in David Lynch's movies where everything seems so perfect & normal at first sight but when the facade is collapsing, everything looks so different & weird (but not in a good way). Take Laura Palmer the Twin Peaks heroine for instance. She looked like the perfect American girl until everyone discovered that she was a cocaine-addict prostitute. This is this evil side of America that has interested Raf Simons for this collection. And this was the perfect theme to mix with his own obsessions: teenage years, community & individuality. He looked toward his past to create a very modern silhouette, a silhouette full of energy & meaning that is literally obsessing us right now.

Raf's References - Pic via Tumblr [ Rafswerk]
To represent this monstrous & chaotic world where nothing must be taken literally, Raf Simons opted for an oversized silhouette, layers of huge V-neck jumpers enlarged in the extreme, shapeless cardigans, enormous puffa jackets or peacoats (very Margiela "La Mode du XXL" for Fall Winter 2000) paired with crop crop pants & high boots or very Vintage-looking Adidas sneakers. This discrepancy between this larger than life tops and this tight/crop trousers is already producing a troubling effect as if, at the end of the day, the image of a perfect college boy  often represented in movies as leader of his football team, handsome, cool, muscular, dating the right girl, was nothing but a joke. This guy is not cooler or more handsome than us. This guy is a weirdo just like everybody else. Never ever judge a book by its cover. Adding to this weird & disconcerting appearance & shape, the clothes are devoured, frayed, torn, holed, damaged, unstructured then restructured (once again a direct nod to Margiela), with unfinished hems as if our "hero" had been attacked by some psycho (after all, Elm Street is another reference for this collection) or eaten by a giant moth (even scarier than Freddy Krüger). That's not a coincidence if this collection is entitled Nightmares and Dreams; in a dream or a nightmare, reality is distorted, troubled, odd, unreal. You can't rely on a dream/nightmare to depict some kind of reality. It's just impossible. Even the most trivial things become disturbing there. In this AW16 collection, it's exactly the same process, the school uniform, this very American thing gets another fascinating dimension. It's no longer something cool, something making you feel part of a club/society/family. This notion is no longer existing with this collection. You are alone, an individual fighting for your life, tearing up your clothes because you have no other way. This is a metaphor for another dear theme to Raf Simons, the difficult coming of age, the transition between teenage years and an adult life. This particular period could be a David Lynch's movie; you are an ordinary person living the weirdest things. Nothing is normal during those days. Life is a struggle, more than at any other times. 

Twin Peaks - Gif via Tumblr

Cindy Sherman- Untitled #353 - 2000 - Pic via Tumblr

Maison Margiela Fall 2000 - via Vogue.com

Maison Margiela Fall 2000 - via Vogue.com
Gif via Tumblr
Maison Margiela Fall 2000 - via Vogue.com

Gif via Rafswerk's Tumblr

Cindy Sherman- Untitled #153 - 1985 - Pic via Tumblr
Gif via Rafswerk's Tumblr

In  Dior & I, the acclaimed documentary about Raf Simons's first collection for Dior, the designer says that he is not and has never been a minimalist. Working for Jil Sander labelled him as such but if you look at this new collection, it's crystal clear. These shapes, these details, these vibes, these references; nothing is minimalist here. This sublime collection shows us that Raf Simons was right to leave Dior (even if it was a shock and still is in a way) because you need time to create, to make fashion, to find the inspiration, to nourish your soul. Here, the result is stunning and more referenced than ever. With this AW16, Raf Simons has decided to take a look at the past whereas in his previous collections, he tended to use contemporary references to create (just look at his collaboration with Sterling Ruby to be convinced). This collection, tinged with vintage notes (the clothes seem to come from an 80s movie, the check prints, the jumpers have an old school touch) is a direct wink to Raf's own teenage rebellious years and carries one particular message, a perfect world is not a reality. Take a closer look at those surrounding you, reality is always really different on the other side of the street.

Words by Yann Sackville-West & Charles Margueritte

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