Photography: Lane Lang
Out of all Men’s Fashion Week shows, Raf Simons’ is always the most anticipated. And unlike most cases, when you meet the rockstar you’ve always wanted to bang, but end up being really disappointed—Raf always delivers. For his Spring ’18 collection, the designer channeled three unlikely references—Chinatown, Blade Runner and artwork by Peter Saville—that manifested in patent leather trench coats and Chinese lanterns, emblazoned with album art from Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures and New Order’s Movement and Substance. Less brazen than last Spring’s collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, but equally ingenious, S/S ’18 combined classic menswear with wearable tech, delivering a sort of retro-futuristic “It’s Raining Men.”
Of course, all of his silhouettes were perfect and the styling was on-point as usual—but that’s not what separates Simons from other designers every season. It’s his meticulous ability to turn anything old, average or overdone, into something extraordinarily new. Take for instance, the Unknown Pleasures visual, which has been screenprinted on tri-blend tees from Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters to Opening Ceremony and American Apparel (RIP). Somehow, and much to my surprise, Raf was able to make the design not just cool, but punk again, printing graphic versions on the backs of pink suits that fused new wave shoulders with modern detailing. Or how about those coats? It’s definitely not new to turn a jacket backwards, and neither are tartan or patent. But Simons’ execution turns an otherwise cool, but not particularly innovative design, into a revolution.
Though, what’s perhaps most exciting about Simons is the fact that he’s actually designing menswear. We love brands like Gypsy Sport and Palomo Spain who are completely reinventing the medium. But there’s something to be said about a designer who can reinvent suits without completely destroying them. For the most part, the brands that get the most applause are the ones who present the most subversive pieces. A dress instead of pants during Men’s Week? How progressive. Except, that’s become the norm. So when a designer as dynamic as Raf Simons sends actual menswear down the runway, it’s not just radical—it’s transformative.
View behind the scenes images from the presentation, above.