Given David Bowie’s 66th birthday present to himself and the world, ‘Where Are We Now?’, a bolt out of the darkness reflecting on his Berlin era, as well as the upcoming Bowie V&A exhibit, there has been a drought of the Thin White Duke on catwalk soundtracks this season. Bowie is, for Raf Simons, a hero – and has been since his youth. Simons’ silhouette owes much to the musician, his models’ candour and fair hair often reminiscent of one of the greatest recording artists of all time.
It’s interesting then that Simons, for his finale music – which turned away from the thud-thud techno we all love, and the Belgians are obsessed with – to Bowie’s ‘Modern Love’, from Let’s Dance. The track is a world away from the wrought emotion (and coke-detached surface) of ‘Station To Station’ or the teutonic wail of ‘Heroes’. It’s a true crossover hit and one that snobs would undoubtedly scoff at.
That choice said everything about this Raf Simons collection. Here was the designer drawing out his loves and influences in a new way. The clothes were 70s from an angle Simons has never perched himself at before, with patterned wool tank tops, big collars and cuffs dishevelled on fitted shirts, fluid trousers, fuller-cut suit jackets with patch pockets, striped satin t-shirts with matching bags and an architectural take on the lavallire, unbowed. If the feeling before was all Sisters of Mercy, Smashing Pumpkins and Berghain bangers, this was more Grange Hill, corduroy, Ford Cortina. From the angsty youth to the wistful one. There’s something about that that feels very right – and honest – for the moment.
It would be a bit odd if Simons’s post as womenswear creative director at Christian Dior hadn’t questioned his entire creative spectrum. Looking at this show, with its celebration of colour and open fashion ambition, it’s clear the designer is in a good place personally right now. He wants to share it with all of us.
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