Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Evolution of Raf Simons

Might we cast one more red herring into the already dizzying chronicle of arrivals and departures within Paris' couture houses? Sure, we've all mourned the loss of Galliano, and have debated Marc Jacobs and Haider Ackerman's potential, but we here at Vagabond want to put in our bid for Raf Simons at Dior. Suzy Menkes got us thinking when she ignited mass hysteria with her allusion to Simons taking the reins at YSL, and after mulling it over we feel that the only logical place for Raf to go after showing three blockbuster seasons in a row at Jil Sander is to serve at the helm of the house of Dior. Listen up, Mr. Toledano, and buy your Raf-fle tickets now.

He almost single-handedly brought bright hues back into the fashion lexicon this past Spring 2011 -- casting the hemlines low and clashing blocks of color in a directional display that set the front row pundits aflame with gasps of: "stripes!" "brights!" "floor-sweeping-skirts!" We like that no matter how playful Simons gets, his ideas are always refined and referential; distilling numerous influences through his minimal perspective (just as Jil herself would have wanted it, we imagine).

This collection made such an impact, the reverberations are sure to be felt all the way into Spring 2012. Here, a 90s Yves Saint Laurent Pink Maxi Dress Halter that not only follows through on Sander's floor sweeping maxim, but highlight's fashion's erogenous zone of the moment: the midriff.

Giving us another light-handed approach this Fall, Simons further indulged his fascination with couture, exploring Balenciaga inspired silhouettes and cozy separates that called to mind Audrey Hepburn's costumes in the 1963 movie Charade. The sporty knitwear played a good foil to Simon's affinity for solid separates, proving that this girl has a quirky side to spite her good manners.

A Look From Cristobal Balenciaga's Spring Summer 1961 Haute Couture 

Spring 2012 was yet another coup for Raf Simons. The last installment in his "couture trilogy," this collection was yet another ode to the graceful screen heroines of yesteryear -- shunning nostalgia by way of tongue-in-check takes on iconic styles. Dior's New Look and the cool beauty of Grace Kelly were strong influences this season, and that restrained sensuality was present even in the more modern, clinical all-white looks that the show opened with.
While Simon's clearly couldn't resist a visit back to the old maxi-skirt-and-simple-top combo that began this whole odyssey, it somehow felt right, as if over these last few seasons, the Sander girl has gone from fresh innocence to serene wisdom.


VNYC's take on Jil Sander's austere romanticism for Spring 2012: Charles Anastase cotton/silk blouse with skull detail buttons

In retrospect, one is able to view these past three collections as a whole opus, illustrating the maturation of Raf Simon's as a designer. He has found a strong voice that speaks to the movement of fashion, and has shown a deftness for couture ready to wear. Positioning himself well amidst the venerable fashion houses in today's market, Simons' skilled workmanship and vision has proven his ability to gain profits as well as prominence for Jil Sander. His designs are twists on timelessness, and, given the opportunity, we believe he would flourish even further at Dior.

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