A 'False Encyclopaedia' double feature with John-Michael O'Sullivan, discussing:
Raf Simons Spring/Summer 2014
Before Raf Simons became boldface RAF SIMONS, he was just a shy Belgian student, hanging around with the cool kids - kids like his girlfriend, Véronique Branquinho, who would go on to collaborate with him at Ruffo, and to teach at the same fashion school in Vienna. And though Simons' star quickly outshone Branquinho's, you get the sense that he's never entirely shaken the vestiges of that outsiderish-ness, that lack of the intrinsic cool which Branquinho so effortlessly had.
The surfaces of this collection were so alive with associations to the past - the neon-pink shoulders from AW09, the rainbow stripes from Jil Sander Spring 2011 - that you had to pick away to get to the nancy-boy softness of thigh-grazing polo shirts, pinafore vests and fluid tees. Increasingly, his own-label collections seem as much about the flesh left exposed - the lean, gangly legs and arms emerging from cropped shorts and sleeveless shirts - as they are about the garments themselves. And the barrage of slogans (like the Jean Prouvé house, and the Calder mobile, and the Warhol illustrations stamped onto his last Dior womenswear collection) felt like semaphore; appropriated shorthand for a message that Simons won't, or can't, quite articulate.
Undeniably, there is some kind of excitement attached to Raf Simons. And when you divide its parts, there is nothing exciting about it. Maybe it could be called 'Analytic Pop'. Ordinary things we know, signature ideas we crave, irritation we surrender to. Rave and advertising. Subculture and commerce. Raf is selling himself, selling out, selling dreams. A mass-media machine, a masturbation factory, a perpetuum mobile. The TV station that will exceed MTV. We have to admit the 'happy yeah' and swallow the pill.
1. Raf Simons Spring/Summer 2014
2. Jean Prouvé 1962 & Alexander Calder 1957 & Raf Simons 2011
3. Helmut Lang Spring/Summer 2004
4. Raf Simons & Véronique Branquinho Ruffo Research, 2000
5. Andy Warhol Four Dollar Signs, 1982
6. Damien Hirst Lullaby, 2002
7. Dior Fall/Winter 2013
8. Raf Simons Spring/Summer 2014
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