Click images to enlarge.
If the soundtrack to Raf Simons’ AW13 show in Paris last night was anything to go by, you’d have thought we were in for a best-of moment. “I wanted to have very different songs that showed all the things we come from,” Raf told i-D backstage, outlining the medley’s transitioning from Marilyn Manson to techno to Chris Isaac. “It was all about juxtaposing things that may not necessarily fit together. It was for me also what the look was about.” And if Simons has been stuck with the label of minimalist for too long, this was the definitive sayonara to that cliché. Basing his collection on dandyism, he explored the flamboyancy of the early 19th century movement and their devotion to the art of dressing up. “It’s about control and at the same time letting it completely go in your dandyish controlled look,” he said.
If there was a 1970s quality to it, it was definitely more Kubrick than camp. Looks made up of polo necks, shirts and jumpers layered tightly over one another were really quite eerie in a sort of Willy Wonka way, but the subversive constantly balanced out the dandy-esque, preventing it from turning foppish. “We started with the idea of doing a blazer, and to be really honest, we didn’t really care so much what shape it was going to be, because the idea was more about placing things onto the blazer, almost as if you’re working with two different kinds of layers, which is not something you normally do because you completely adapt to all the buttoning and the overlap and the revers. I didn’t want to do that,” Raf explained. The result was a John Chamberlain-ish take on a formal wardrobe with cartoonish injections, including the hair, the inspiration for which came from Japanese manga.
“I was quite interested in certain cartoon figures with a certain kind of psychology. I don’t know why. Roadrunner, Pepe Le Pew… they try to be very strong masculine figures, but it can go very wrong or they can be clumsy or they can lose,” Raf told i-D. “It’s difficult for me to explain it, but I think I’m out to challenge how a look is defined as something that is modern for men right now in this moment in time. And I think, generally speaking, it defines as a look, which is slicked back with a trendy shoe, a trendy sock or a more voluminous kind of thing. I think that’s been very present in men’s collections, including in my own, and it just doesn’t feel so challenging to me anymore.” “If men like that right now you’re happy to offer it, but I also like to challenge it and find out what else it could be.”
Text: Anders Christian Madsen
Photograph (catwalk): Mitchell Sams