To be honest, we never quite understood the concept of a New York Mens Fashion Week. Hard to find something really exciting over there when it came to menswear labels. This was our thoughts before Raf Simons's arrival. Indeed, when he was appointed Calvin Klein artistic director, we knew he would certainly take his eponymous brand with him too. And he did, bringing a little bit more substance to this, let's admit it, "boring" chapter in the male presentations.
Raf Simons in New York means a brand new era for him, for #NYFWM and of course, for Fashion! A new era and new beginnings too. Think of all these designers who tempted the American adventure, think of Helmut Lang, one of the apostles of Minimalism and all the others before him. NYC seems to be the perfect place to create, to find inspiration. Street Art is King here. Art is something fundamental in Simons's work; think of his collaboration with Sterling Ruby [for Autumn Winter 2014]or Robert Mapplethorpe [for Spring Summer 2017] or when he was at the head of creation for Dior, with Andy Warhol [for Autumn Winter 2013]. America & everything that goes with it have always been a huge source of inspiration for Raf Simons; the fantasy of the college boy, the Twin Peaks related stories... Being in New York means for Raf Simons to be able to express his love & fascination for the US and especially for the Big Apple. This city is such a symbol! This is where everything is possible, where people come to start afresh. This is the cosmopolitan city par excellence, the Anti-Trump state, a place of Freedom. Modern America not Trump's America. A place of awareness not obscurantism. All this could only inspire & stimulate the Belgian designer.
Pictures by Joshua Woods
His Autumn Winter 2017/18 collection is an ode to New York but also an Anti-Trump manifesto; an invitation to unite America (with the slogan "Walk With me" here and there). He want to talk to every American, bringing them together. This collection is a message of Peace, of Love against what is going on in today's world: violence, racism, discrimination. Instead of fighting against each other, he wants people to think together. Obviously, the clothes are embodying this "Walk With Me" manifesto. His creations are like weapons of peace, uniforms adorned with slogans like "Anyway Out Of This Nightmare?", "I Love You" or "New Dawn Fades".
The AW17/18 silhouette is quite "simple": men in long coats, slouch trousers, message tees & pearly chain chokers. Slogan duct tape is used to structure the waist and embellish the back of the jackets. Heavy cropped knitwear with exaggerated sleeves is worn over long slogan tee-shirts, some are even worn over the shoulder, like they don't care. Giant knitted arm-sleeves are adding a splash of colors just like the duct tape. This idea of a uniform (something recurrent in Simons's work) is also present in the oversize work-wear inspired shirts. All these oversize shapes are contributing to this idea of Drama, just like the black satin coats. We definitely need this kind of Drama in our lives! Drama & Chaos, that's what Raf Simons is bringing to this dull New York Fashion Week. But this is also a love message to NYC. We are watching the beginnings of a love story in a way. And this is beautiful and totally cool!
Words by Yann Sackville-West
These pictures are courtesy of Raf Simons