Thinking Big: Raf Simons Fall 2016

At the door we were handed show notes, something decidedly un-Raf Simons, and left to negotiate a gigantic labyrinth that filled the venue. The show was standing only, with the warning ‘Don’t stand on the black line.’ That line would direct the boys around the maze, which had us touching the clothes as they brushed past, and made for a wonderfully intimate experience.

Opening to the spoken words of Angelo Badalamenti as he described writing the soundtrack for Twin Peaks, explaining his conversations with David Lynch, and sounding out the infamous notes of the haunting music. Indeed the eerie, claustrophobic show — titled Nightmares and Dreams — evoked a nightmarish Lynchian dreamscape — on the birthday of Lynch himself.

The looks came thick and fast, with a focus on ‘Red Americana’ meeting ‘Flemish Blue,’ as stated in the notes, a kind of American youth vs. Belgian youth. The classic American varsity sweaters reached epic new proportions, drowning the models, with hand top-stitching and esoteric badging — all suitably distressed and broken down to their rudimentary elements, in true Belgian style. Puffer jackets were blown up to gargantuan cocoons that distorted the body, and are sure to be a huge hit with stores.

This destroying and total lack of regard for garment proportions, or rules, pushed the envelope and recalled his infamous collections of the early 2000s that are hot tickets on the reseller Grailed (charging $20k for archive pieces from fall 2003). And, it seemed he was willing to face the archives to honor them, as they found a separate section in the notes, with four iconic shows listed: Riot, Riot Riot (fall 2001), Woe Unto Those Who Spit on the Fear Generation (spring 2002), Virginia Creeper (fall 2002), and Waves (fall 2004).

Simons said backstage, “It’s also very interesting when something goes wrong,” speaking of the disproportional pieces, and going to say that’s where the Twin Peaks references came from, a sense of oddness and unexpectedness that shocks you with its simplicity and beauty. This collection shocked not only in its rawness, but also its conception and intimacy, something Raf is very happy to welcome back after his departure from Dior in October. And we couldn’t be happier about it.

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