Long Nguyen is the co-founder/style director of Flaunt.
PARIS–The moving escalators at the vast subterranean glass ceiling basement at the Le Centorial office complex where Raf Simons held his spring show reminded me of his outdoor show in July 1998 at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie where the spring 1999 Kinetic Youth collection was shown. Models marched around a mirrored ball while David Bowie’s Space Oddity played in a production of Wagnerian magnitude.
This season was a moment for Mr. Simons to reaffirm his design roots and contributions to modern menswear–principally his pioneering signature pencil cut suits with slim pants, his baggy pull on or pleated pants with square shoulder jacket, and his slim coats.
Gone are the references of the youth and underground cultures that dominated his early years. A maturing Mr. Simons now focus his attention on sharpening his silhouette and reducing the clothes to just essential shapes and fabrics. In this show, reinforced by the linear proportion of the rectangular space covered with just metal and glass, he abolished any unnecessary surface decorations–like those large zippers from this fall collection–for a pared down silhouette of coats, jackets and a short sleeveless sheath tank over mainly black tropical wool plain front slim pants.
A purplish plaid raincoat, jacket and black pants outfit opened the show. Thereafter, Mr. Simons reworked his plaid nylon fabrics into trapeze shaped coats with patchwork patterns creating an illusion effect. Flare shape raincoats came in vibrant pink, yellow, lavender, blue, and blacks.
Mr. Simons has transformed a sleeveless tank into a one piece garment that can go from casual to evening: A solid red, ice blue or orange, a green or purple plaid, a black or neon yellow wool with blue or pink leaf print patterns. This sheath now replaces the shirt and tie even for formal occasions, as when it’s worn with a black evening suit. Or it can stand on its own with the black plain front slim pants, the only pant silhouette shown. I loved the black leather shoes decorated with a string of gold bracelets around the heels–the only visible decoration in the show.
It will be interesting to see where Mr. Simons’ journey will take him from here. Bets are he will continue to refine and evolve his signature look.
**All photos by Imaxtree.