The Belgian designer’s SS20 collection just debuted at a sports hall on the outskirts of Paris, featuring drug motifs, logo lab coats, and a tribute to legendary Belgian record label R&S
It’s been a big day at Paris Fashion Week: the menswear edition. First up, Virgil Abloh created an actual meadow filled with 30,000 carnations to showcase his SS20 Off-White collection, because fuck our debilitating hayfever! Then came Undercover, where Jun Takahashi debuted a new collab with Cindy Sherman. And of course, Y/Project, JW Anderson, and Acne Studios made up the bits in-between. Now, though, comes the one we’ve been (and are always) waiting for: RAF SIMONS. Here’s everything you need to know.
RAF DRAGGED US TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF PARIS
...but tbh, we’re fine with it. Tonight, the setting was a vast hall – a university testing facility – that had been fitted out with lilac carpets and industrial scaffolding, where guests including Takashi Murakami, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Romy xx, Tyler Mitchell, and living legend Laura Dern took their spots (and a series of selfies, in some cases) on corporate office chairs wrapped in (we hope recyclable!) plastic.
THERE WERE A LOT OF REFERENCES TO DRUGS
But come on: this is a Raf Simons show we’re talking about. As guests were making their way into the venue, Willy Vanderperre was overheard noting that the building itself resembled a big pill, before the show kicked off with a voice repeating ‘Corporate America, consumer America, fascist America’ over the top of Mica Levi’s incredible, spine-tingling Under The Skin film score. As things progressed, a number of models made their way around the space wearing pieces that featured smiley face ecstasy pill motifs, ‘Stoned America’ slogans, RS-LAB logo lab coats, and heavy-duty rubber boots – making it seem like those wearing them had perhaps been busy mixing up some pharmaceuticals of their own.
...AND A TRIBUTE TO A BELGIAN INSTITUTION
As seen splashed across t-shirts and tunics was a green triangle featuring the outline of a horse – the logo of Renaat Vandepapeliere and Sabine Maes’ iconic Ghent-based record label R&S Records, which played a huge part in the popularity of New Beat. The wild genre, which spawned its own devoted subculture, fused acid and techno and became huge in Belgium right around the time Raf was at uni in the late 80s. Elsewhere, the designer paid tribute to Antwerp with tailored shorts and jackets on which 'My Own Private Antwerp' was displayed. Seemingly, Raf is happy to be back in Belgium, but given the themes of the show and, more particularly, its soundtrack, his time in the US and the almost-two-years he spent at Calvin Klein are still not far from his mind.
THERE WERE SOME SUBTLE MESSAGES RUNNING THROUGHOUT
Hidden in amongst the oversized coats, rolled up trousers, knee-length tunics, and laboratory-style coats and trousers were hard-to-read and sometimes almost entirely obscured slogans that read ‘how to text your teen’, while a few models carried hats with what looked like raccoon tails attached to them – much like the ones worn by so-called American hero Davy Crockett and, later, by kids at summer camp and boy scouts. These, along with the references to pills and medication, the mention of ‘Stoned America’, and the show’s soundtrack suggest that Raf still has a few demons left to exorcise.