Disrupting the hierarchical fashion system with a no seating policy, Raf Simons created a monumental ‘happening’ set under the haze of red lights. Audience members were invited to stand and witness it all unravel as models wearing personal photographs of Simons, his mother and father, weaved their way in and out of the crumbling show space.
Attack on the system:
"As much as I am part of it, I’ve come to really question the system. How far can it go until the moment it might not work any more?" Raf Simons told me a few months ago during an interview for the spring/summer issue of Dazed. It was clear that this was on his mind again this season. "I was thinking about my early days when I was always clubbing," he revealed backstage after the show. "I liked the fact that we were all standing. Everyone was on the same level and there was no hierarchy." What Simons achieved today served as a reminder of the potential power of a show. As soon as you abolish the sense of hierarchy, it creates a domino effect – people weren’t aggressively taking pictures or witnessing the show through a phone screen, instead everyone was left to become absorbed in a spectacular moment for fashion.
An emotional and personal collection:
It’s a rare and curious thing when you get to see the parents of a designer backstage after a show. This evening, Simons’s mother and father seemed overcome with joy. They had every reason to be, as this was a particularly personal collection for them. Simons has always been taking his cues from youth culture and adolescent angst, often reworking and appropriating imagery from that time (his homage to Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers for AW01 and his collaboration with Peter Saville for AW03). Today Simons was exploring an early period of consciousness by covering his garments with old family images of his parents together. "It’s impossible to analyse it because it all goes very deep," he said. There was even a portrait of Simons from his late teenage years in Antwerp shot by long-term friend, collaborator and stylist Olivier Rizzo. "It was a very emotional moment for me," he explained. "I still remember when he gave it to me and I kept it for all of these years! Tonight I finally gave it back to him."