4 March 2011

Fall of the Prince

Autumn/Winter 2011

The Raf you knew and loved is long gone.

A bold statement, and yet one many of Raf's most fervent earliest supporters have felt rang increasingly true over the past few years.  Gone are the subcultural nuances, gone are the witty statements, (gone is the relevance?), to be replaced by styles echoing past glory.  One of the most important menswear designers of the late '90s and early '00s, Raf seems to have turned his back on his fans as of late.  Like butter spread thin over too much toast, there seems to have been a plethora of sidelines and branded accessories ready to cash in on his name.  And yet for all that it seems to have diluted and almost drowned the idea behind that name.  The fantastic tailoring and dependable pieces are there, but the shows have lost something. 

The day before Raf was to show his Autumn/Winter 2011 collection, the invitation for which cryptically bore the statement "Rise of the Craftsman/Fall of the Prince", it was announced via email that the label had been dropped by backers Futurepresent.  The showroom had been canceled.  The collection was not to go into production...

"It is with great regret that we are obliged to announce that the collaboration between Futurepresent s.r.l. and Mr. Raf Simons will be suspended for the A/W 2011-12 collection.  Unfortunately we therefore have no choice but to cancel all Raf Simons AW 2011-12 appointments at our showroom...We can confirm that we will proceed with the SS11 production deliveries.  In the mean time we thank Mr. Simons and the present and past members of his design team for these years of intense and inspiring collaboration and would also like to take this opportunity to express our extreme gratitude for your support from 2005 until today."
(Email from Futurepresent)

Whilst no official reason was given for the suspension of business relations at the time, rumour was rife that Raf Simons had been subject to increasingly poor sales.  The collection however went ahead as planned.  It was interesting enough, with a few nice outerwear pieces and some perfectly decent knitwear, however many pieces seemed to be a rehashing of past collections, and Raf's voice seemed either stifled or lacking in anything to say.  It was not a bad collection, far from it compared to other collections shown this season.  However comparing the collection to what we know Raf is capable of, it was certainly not as good a collection as it could have been. 

I have to admit that I was slightly confused by Cathy Horyn stating that Raf Simons and Givenchy were the best of the collections from Paris.  I personally believe that both were a bit bland (the kiss of death itself in fashion).  Whilst many applauded his tailoring, it was nothing new or exciting, and indeed it has been consistent since the late '90s (and was, to put it delicately, bested by Slimane).  I thought it quite amusing when Horyn said that the monochromatic looks of Rick Owens, Kris Van Assche and Dior Homme "may just reveal a lack of ideas, a profound sense of inertia".  To me that statement was somewhat like arguing that Chanel using black and off-white "may just reveal a lack of ideas".

Of course as is the way in fashion, Raf Simons was soon bought up and news of a rather odd change in direction was revealed... 

"A spokesman for Simons said the designer’s usual factories would produce the fall collection, which put a futuristic spin on collegiate style.
The blankets some models toted on the runway, in patterns matching their slim sweaters, form part of Raf Simons House, a new range for the home that will relate to the seasonal fashion collections. Simons trained as an industrial designer in Genk, Belgium.
The heritage collection, labeled Raf Simons 1995, consists of about 40 iconic and classic styles since the label’s inception, including schoolboy blazers, military parkas and “R” logo shirts updated for today."
(via WWD)

A home line and a heritage line?  Seriously Raf?  *facepalm*

Whilst it will no doubt bring in major money, it is exactly this type of over-branding and catering for mindless flash consumerism that has so many fans turned against Raf.  One would have hoped that being dropped would have made Raf decide to reevaluate what was important, focusing on his craft, and yet it seems merely to have diluted him further.

Although it is perhaps naïve to talk of losing artistic integrity (everyone has financial responsibilities, and designers have to have a business mind in order to survive, let alone succeed), Raf's designing over the past few years, coupled with applying his name to just about anything that may sell (let us not forget the crack towels), seems in my mind to suggest just that.  Past experience and the majority of his career shows that he can be relevant and say something powerful, and yet it feels as if he has lost his way and is content to fall back.  Perhaps he has earned that right, but it seems a dire waste of artistic talent.

Raf, I know you can do better, in fact the latest womenswear collection for Jil Sander was nothing short of stunning.  But if you must, just send me a Kollaps hoodie and a pair of your Lego boots and I'll turn the other way and remember the good days. 


  1. interesting stuff, i didn't really know much about this but i do follow his collections every season. lets hope he doesn't do a sell out on us like some designers majorly did in the 70s. i don't want to see raf simons boxers in tkmaxx

  2. Gorgeous collection!
    That purple jacket is amazing!


  3. oh wow, the pink coat. wow!

  4. Oh gosh, I didn't even realise the news on Raf Simons. A home line? Oh no.

  5. Amazing pics!
    Follow me? I'd be very happy if you do it!
    Thank you so much!


  6. Wow I didn't know about such a thing! It's sometimes sad to hear such things:(

    Love love his simple yet gorgeous styles!

  7. The purple coat is soo cool !