Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.
Paris--The question on everyone's mind prior to Raf Simons's show last night was whether the newly minted Dior designer would be exhausted by his new duties for the storied house. Simons is showing his debut couture collection for Dior in less than four days--would he have the time to devote serious attention to his own menswear collection?
Thankfully (obviously?), Simons's menswear hasn't suffered a bit. In a small space off the Bastille, where Simons has been showing his menswear since the start of his career in the late '90s, the designer showed a collection of precisely cut single breasted suits, jackets cut with trapezoidal cutting patterns in the back, and bright coats (some with a floral print) worn over short shorts. The models' faces, though, were covered up by hair extensions.
Simons excels at developing an entire collection around a singular obsession. Continuing from this fall’s below-the-knee shorts in lieu of pants, he made the spring shorts as light as cotton boxer underwear with little slits in the front or on the side to reveal a little more skin on the models’ long legs as they walked by. He built his tailored jackets around these shorts--strong shouldered, slightly fitted at the ribcage, and flared at the hips. The fabrics were so light and transparent that one could see the construction of the garments. Color prints on sleeveless tunics added a feminine touch. Bottom line, no one cuts a single-breasted suit that a young person aspires to wear like Raf Simons does. The light charcoal two button jacket with flared pants was surely a “Raf classic” silhouette and one that has been his trademark in getting a younger generation more prone to casual wear to adopt this more relaxed version of the gentleman’s tailored suiting. That is Mr. Simons's greatest influence on menswear in the last decade and a half.
The fragile fabrics, the touches of powder pink, the colorful print sheath t-shirts and the movements of the slits on the shorts against the models’ skin evoked a certain emotion common to many of Mr. Simons's early shows that had been lacking in the past few seasons. 'Sexy' isn’t probably a word that would come to mind exiting any Raf Simons's shows, but somehow it was what I thought on the way to watch the Portugal-Spain semi-final Euro2012 game.