Raf Simons

Raf loves Robert

Raf Simons ss17
Generally positive reactions to Raf Simons’ ode to Robert Mapplethorpe last week in Florence. The revered 80s photographer is having a moment, after his retrospective exhibitions at LACMA and The Getty Center in Los Angeles (and the HBO documentary Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures) reminded us of the breadth of his output. As with Gosha, Raf is well versed in finding ways to demonstrate his passions while keeping to his signature house codes.

So, haphazardly oversized silhouettes continue to dominate, as do the cut-and-paste, collagy motifs familiar to any Raf fan-boy (or girl). The collaboration was initiated by the Mapplethorpe camp and eagerly embraced by Raf. As well as recognisable portraits of Debbie Harry, Patti Smith and Robert Sherman, other recurring Mapplethorpe themes included male nudes, antique statues and elegant flower photographs.

These were artfully and respectfully placed by Raf, framed in the open neckline of a slouchy sweater, on the bib of a dungaree, or arranged in triplicate down the side of a shirt. As Raf commented to the FT (registration required), “I wanted to approach it like when you do an exhibition at a museum or a gallery, but of course the medium is so different. Which was a big challenge, because otherwise you have T-shirt with prints which is what most people do but which I don’t find very respectful.”

Raf Simons ss17 - a collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe estate
Raf Simons ss17 - a collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe estate
Raf Simons ss17 - a collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe estate

While the naked male member glimpsed on a shirt was seen by some as deliberately provocative, it was the flower prints that grabbed my attention. They reminded me of my Raf-for-Dior flower placement sweatshirt from SS14 along with an orchid-print silk square scarf. But to anyone unfamiliar with Mapplethorpe’s work, they just represented covetable, wearable pieces.

To accompany the show, Raf produced an exhibition of his 20-year-old archive, which helped to reinforce his recurrent themes. The oversized white shirts and layered, cropped knits, the peekaboo photo placements, they’re all Raf signatures that we know and love. Yet how perfectly they translate as canvases for Mapplethorpe’s work…
Raf Simons ss17
6 Raf Simons ss17
7 Raf Simons ss17 Vogue Runway
Raf Simons ss17 - a collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe estate
Raf Simons Robert Mapplethorpe collaboration SS17
Raf Simons ss17 Vogue Runway

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Vogue Runway; Yu Fujiwara for W magazine
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THE DRG STYLE INDEX: AMI, CALVIN KLEIN, HADES KNITWEAR, L’OREAL

Here’s the latest weekly DRG STYLE INDEX ranking, a round-up of the brands currently buzzing on my radar…

1. AMI COMES TO LONDON

French brand Ami opens a London store in Duke Street
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Why duvet coats?

Norma Kamali sleeping bag coat

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Before the AW16 shows kicked off, supersized sleeping bag coats were already on my radar, having seen the above Norma Kamali example on Instagram (side note: do give Magazine_fan a follow if you’re a vintage fash-mag nut). And then the floodgates opened with outpourings of padded down goodness by everyone from Stuart Vevers at Coach to Alexander McQueen (a peachy satin butterfly-embroidered duvet coat fit for a princess), to the Stella McCartney one most likely to be copied by the high street.

padded jacket by Chen Peng in teen vogue (more…)

Quote of the day: Raf Simons

Raf Simons - Image from Interview magazine

“I was so struck by everything I was seeing that I started to cry. I felt so embarrassed. I was like, Oh God, look at the ground, look at the ground, everyone’s going to see you’re crying — like, how stupid to be crying at a fashion show. Then I looked around, and half the audience was crying.”
Raf Simons on the effect of the SS90 Martin Margiela show, The Gentlewoman (via Business of Fashion)