Raf Simons Men’s Fall 2011: Rise of the Craftsman

Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. Paris--You know something is in the air in menswear when one of the most prolific and perhaps most experimental designers--at least in terms of creating new shapes and using new technical materials--espouses a return to the endangered art of craftsmanship. Raf Simons did just that with his fall show. I remember seeing Mr. Simons’ clothes for the first time in the January 1995 at a small showroom in Milano, where he presented extremely tight single-breasted suits in dark grey and black wool. They were inspired by the culture surrounding English schoolboys. But that was when Tom Ford’s Gucci era was getting underway. Those hyper-sexually-charged clothes dominated for the next decade. What Simons did that--and does now--is embrace a counter current ambiance.
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Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt. Paris--You know something is in the air in menswear when one of the most prolific and perhaps most experimental designers--at least in terms of creating new shapes and using new technical materials--espouses a return to the endangered art of craftsmanship. Raf Simons did just that with his fall show. I remember seeing Mr. Simons’ clothes for the first time in the January 1995 at a small showroom in Milano, where he presented extremely tight single-breasted suits in dark grey and black wool. They were inspired by the culture surrounding English schoolboys. But that was when Tom Ford’s Gucci era was getting underway. Those hyper-sexually-charged clothes dominated for the next decade. What Simons did that--and does now--is embrace a counter current ambiance.
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Fashionista contributor Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.

Paris--You know something is in the air in menswear when one of the most prolific and perhaps most experimental designers--at least in terms of creating new shapes and using new technical materials--espouses a return to the endangered art of craftsmanship. Raf Simons did just that with his fall show.

I remember seeing Mr. Simons’ clothes for the first time in the January 1995 at a small showroom in Milano, where he presented extremely tight single-breasted suits in dark grey and black wool. They were inspired by the culture surrounding English schoolboys. But that was when Tom Ford’s Gucci era was getting underway. Those hyper-sexually-charged clothes dominated for the next decade. What Simons did that--and does now--is embrace a counter current ambiance.

No matter if the current collection had inklings of punk or new wave. Simons always cuts his slim fitting suits in the most classic fabrics like wool pinstripe and wool gabardine.

Was it an antidote to the current obsession with fast fashion, where the hype machinery often masks a complete lack of design integrity? In shifting fashion back to its artisan roots, was this show a line in the sand halting the advancement of and a requiem for fast fashion? Is this couture approach to fashion the new subculture?

The return to sartorial craftsmanship--handwork techniques--means a focus on forms and materials. Mr. Simons would never let an occasion go by without trying out a few experiments. A camel single-breasted jacket with two pockets at the chest was slightly fitted at the waist but boxier in the back and shoulder to create a illusion that the upper half of the jacket was floating slightly above the model’s back when he walked by.

Moving forward means embracing and transforming the present moment. Mr. Simons’ generation, who has grown up with him, can now appreciate the luxury of the wardrobe he has created for them.

**All photos by Imaxtree.