Eclectic minimalism: Raf Simons tells us his own narrative in SS23
After Raf Simons‘ LFW debut was cancelled due the passing of Queen Elizabeth ?, the anticipation for the show has had time to brew – and the Belgian designer exceeded all expectations. Taking over the iconic Printworks, Simons crafted his own rave universe as the designs entwined and carried over twenty years of references – from 80s punk to 2000s neon obsession. As the bar metamorphosed into the catwalk, the audience (just a modest 1000 people – nothing too big, you know) was invited to watch the narrative unfold, with techno beats pulsing through their chests and psychedelic graphics breaking out of massive screens. Classic rave echoes of bold leather and tell-all fishnets shook hands with the preppy schoolboy aesthetic, all sharing the runway with intimidatingly oversized biker jackets and polka dot tights. Of course, trench coats and statement blazers also had their time to shine. It was all the styles we didn’t think we’d ever see together (but so glad we did) – especially not under Printworks’ fierce strobe lighting.
The collection also included collaboration pieces with the Belgian painter Philippe Vandenberg, known for his enigmatic and thought-provoking manipulations of words and graphics. With his works plastered over amorphous tops and dresses, the rebellious air of the designs and Raf Simons’ approach is even more apparent. Assertive and energetic as they are in this overwhelmingly chaotic setting, the garments also radiate a certain innocence. This season, Raf Simons revitalises the brand’s vision – protecting the classic cut, he’s not afraid to venture into something younger, more daring and more stripped-down. Perhaps not the most suitable attire for an all-night rave, the collection still features all the canons of an all-night rave in its own way. Plus, if Raf Simons himself challenges us to survive a night out in a high-neck knit jumper and an impossible-to-take-off-in-the-bathroom romper, we might have to accept.