Raf Simons’ clean living Bacchanalia
Though its inspiration was the cult Berlin film Christiane F, and its set was modern day Bacchanalia, the latest collection from Raf Simons was all about, thoroughly modern, clean living couture.
Couture in the sense that Simons used the finest of fabrics and finishes; while cutting, draping and puncturing with abandon, in a highly experimental show that also managed to be wearable, chic, cool and contemporary.
Staged in a dimly lit industrial show-space on a dank Wednesday evening on the Westside, the models walked around an elevated dinner setting, replete with giant bowls of lemons, apples and pears; chocolate (from Belgium, where else); huge cheese rounds; scores of country breads; and hundreds of wine bottles from Piper to Californian shiraz. Like the collection, all perfectly respectable vintages.
Simons dreamed up a whole new garment, a sweater/scarf done in Argyle and cable knits that had great zest. And, his cape like coats – some in Sherlock Holmes check - were all excellent, finished with 12-inch wide side pockets and made with boxing champion silk lining. Most dramatically, oversized jackets worn with femme fatale leather elbow gloves; new high-tech watches and hooded tabards – i.e. classic druggie garb. These he wore over trim athletic style pants tucked into robber wellington boots with indented laces. The look was spruce and very posh street, in a performance powered on by theatrical lighting beams and a techno soundtrack that included music from Russia, Belgium and Chicago. The show was entitled “Youth in Motion.”
Half the looks came finished with words in bold script – notably Drugs, XTC or LSD; many tops and back were finished with photos of Natja Brunckhorst, the actress who played Christiane F in the 1981 film.
How, FashionNetwork.com wondered, had the movie influenced Simons? “Well, for one thing it kept me a long way away from drugs,” stressed the 50-year-old designer, who first saw the movie when he was 14. A dark tale set in the Berlin of David Bowie’s Heroes, where a beautiful teenager descends into heroin addiction.
“Each look was numbered, like in couture, but not in order. The set came from the northern European way of being inspired by things and putting them together - either for a painter, movie director or a Belgian fashion designer. Back in the old days I used to create what someone called Interzones – an environment that you cannot really pin down. So this was like a painting and a club and also a couture show. I like the idea of something unexplainable. There is so much analysis right now in fashion and a creative animal needs to work and think without fear. People hide too much today, because you are not meant to speak about certain things,” opined the designer. Who will donate part of the proceeds of the collection to organizations supporting recovery from addiction.
The event was billed as the first major on a less-than-inspiring New York 10-day runway calendar; and rightly so. In the end, Simons delivered with a great fashion statement of genuinely different clothes. The wines weren’t too bad either.
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