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Raf Simons Menswear A/W12

Oversized pieces, double shirt layers, strands of attached hair and colourful knits were all part of the Belgian designer's new menswear silhouette

Commenting on the state of menswear is a job for an experienced, established and critically acclaimed designer. Basically, Raf Simons. Having been part of setting many of the standards younger designers today try and live up to, the Belgian designer has in recent years decided on more of a philosophical approach to his collections. And for Autumn Winter 2012 it is fair to say that Simons might even have taken a conceptual stance. Because rather than zooming in on a particular fabric, colour or detail, Simons turned to the old trick of oversizing garments and playing with proportions. I say 'old trick' - it has been done before - but each designer of course does it from his or her own set of circumstances. Hence Simons' way was unique and forward-thinking compared to his own aesthetic. 

"I was interested in changing the silhouette of menswear"

Using tight shorts for the bottom half, Simons allowed for oversized garments to appear even bigger. The proportional game was most evident in his shirts, of which some were layered with a collar a dozen sizes too big over a normal-fitting shirt and tie. Other shirts were voluminous and tucked into the trousers for a bigger effect, and the third kind of shirt was as long as a coat and worn as an outerwear garment. Most of these pieces were bottle green, burgundy or navy, but towards the end we also saw a range of floral versions. 

"The strands of hair was meant to be quite symbolic. People change the colour of their hair often, it's an easy way to change something about yourself quite quickly"

A slightly unusual Raf Simons exit came through a brown quilted tail coat, perhaps only topped by the curious inclusion of dyed strands of hair attached to the back of his knits. But in a way they reminded me of the long colourful zips that went down the back of jackets in collection a few seasons ago. To the tones of Depeche Mode's 'Personal Jesus' we also witnessed yellow, green and blue knits, and an almost entirely new breed of hats. But except for these experimental pieces there was also good news for customers wanting standard Raf fashion, blue pea coats, grey oversized coats, bottle green and burgundy suits all featured throughout...

Dazed Digital: There was an oversized idea running through the collection, obviously...
Raf Simons:
Yes, I was interested in changing the silhouette. It's quite clear that menswear is mainly focusing on this kind of classic build up. It's quite defined; a shirt, a tie etc and that's what everyone seem to be going for, a traditional and classic way of dressing. And I'm not disliking that but I wanted to see how I can change it, change the proportions and but also the its function...

DD: How do you mean...
Raf Simons:
well, like for example, the white shirt can also be outerwear and how the suit look can be expanded by adding shorts. 

DD: How come you chose to go big and on the top and tight on the trousers.... you've done wide legs in the past!
Raf Simons:
Actually, the shorts are not skinny. They are quite relaxed actually, there's two or three centimeters extra fabric around the knee. They're almost skate in a way, they just look slim because they are in the same fabric as the blazers. I would say they are quite streety in a way. I like this idea of contrasts - very small and very big, controlled and free, street and luxury - and how to blend them.

DD: What was the idea behind the attached strands of hair?
Raf Simons:
It was meant to be quite symbolic. People change the colour of their hair often, it's an easy way to change something about yourself quite quickly.

DD: The hats were good as well...
Raf Simons:
Yeah, thet were like a mixture of caps and hoods!