The anticipation for Raf Simon's spring 2021 presentation on Friday was almost as high as that of his Prada debut. More than a month ago, the Belgian designer announced that for the first time it would not be all about menswear. And while he has produced extensively women's clothing, Rafaelites at the helm of Calvin Klein, Jil Sander and Dior have been waiting with bated breath.
The subject may have been rebellion, but it wasn't revolutionary. For the 25th anniversary of his label, Simons delivered the classic Raf worth 72 looks. If you are familiar with its archives, you will know exactly what that means: graphic T-shirts, shirtless sweater vests, huge sweaters and slogans modeled on "DISORDER" and "DRUGS".
The collection was titled Teenage Dream and was partially inspired by Zabriskie Point, the 1970 film about counterculture and rebellion in the United States. Apparently, while Simons has spent decades in youth culture, he has never been more obsessed with it than when he was 52. The whole thing was so red-hot that between the creepy '70s vibes, the midsection, the pins that read "JOIN US" and the camouflaged silhouettes, it felt like an induction ceremony for the newly official Raf cult.
In fact, some of the slogans throughout the collection even sounded like the name of a cult. "Children of the Revolution" kept popping up, as did "Midnight Flower Souls", especially in the 1970s. Some models, like one in a Pucci-style poncho, had pins that read both.
Like so many others who have been quarantined, Simons clearly spent time in front of the television. The show's press release was just a list of films that inspired him, ranging from Blow-Up (1966) to Annihilation (2018). While Hair and The Breakfast Club also received shoutouts, the most noticeable influence came from horror films like Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream. It's a familiar area for Simons. He once turned Jason Voorhees' hockey mask into a shoe. But this season his timing couldn't have been better. The barren trees, the eerie purple light, and the cobweb-like webs seemed like a reminder that it was almost Halloween.
There were parallels to Simon's Prada debut, like logo stamped turtlenecks, though to be expected: this Spring 2021 collection was filled with Simons and Miuccia Prada trademarks. But almost like a work-life balance, there were also Raf isms that probably wouldn't fly in an Italian home. The faces printed throughout the collection, like a yearbook snapshot of a man from the 1970s who might have been Barry Gibb, were actually photos of his team's families.
Connected: Raf Simons on his new textile designs, his massive art collection, his beloved dog and his stuffed animals