Crying, shaking, throwing up
Fashion isn’t an industry that’s good at keeping secrets. Even the most closely guarded news often has a habit of trickling from its source long before it’s supposed to, whispered about through hushed conversations and spread across social media at surprisingly ferocious speed. But tonight, fashion-focused group chats blew up with news that just about no one saw coming, as Raf Simons took to Instagram to announce his eponymous label was closing after 27 years.
Referencing his recent London show, which took place at the city’s behemoth rave destination Printworks, the Belgian designer’s post explained that his SS23 collection would be his last. “I lack the words to share how proud I am of all that we have achieved,” he wrote. “I am grateful for the incredible support from my team, from my collaborators, from the press and buyers, from my friends and family, and from our devoted fans and loyal followers.”
By now, it’s unlikely you need any background on Simons (see: understatement). As one of the fashion industry’s foremost innovators, you’d be extremely hard pushed to measure his influence on style and culture. First studying industrial and furniture design at Genk’s LUCA School of Art, former employee Walter Van Beirendonck provided the catalyst that would propel him into a career in fashion, after he took him to Paris to see Martin Margiela’s all-white 1991 show.
His namesake label found its feet in 1995, with the designer becoming known for his fixation on and celebration of youth culture. Alongside the likes of Hedi Slimane, Simons helped shift the way a generation dressed in the late 90s and early 00s, ushering fashion fans into the super-skinny pants and shirts seen as part of countless collections. Where the 90s were largely about buff guys in tight Versace shirts, Simons offered up an angular, pleasingly awkward alternative. Stints at Jil Sander and – at the time – a surprising turn at the helm of Dior followed, before he landed at Calvin Klein in 2016. In 2020, he joined Prada, where he has been working closely with Mrs P for the last couple of years.
Though the reason behind the move is unknown, Simons has been vocal about the pressures that fashion places on its brightest talents, particularly in must-see 2014 documentary Dior & I. With Prada churning out four collections a year, in addition to the two co-ed offerings he designs for his own label, it would not be a stretch to suggest that the designer could be in need of a little downtime. And though we would not like to speculate – namely because we cannot imagine a world in which Miuccia Prada isn’t a prominent figure at the forefront of her own namesake house – naturally, there are rumblings that this may mean Simons is close to taking centre stage over in Milan.
With Simons closing out his IG post with the sign-off “Forward always,” whatever happens, we can't wait to see what comes next.
Revisit the SS23 Raf Simons show in the gallery above, and head here to read some of his most memorable quotes.