Ahead of New York Fashion Week, famed designer Raf Simons sat down with GQ to discuss a myriad of topics, ranging from young designers to Tom Ford’s movie, Donald Trump and more. The piece arrives as Simons is gearing up for his NYFW debut as the new chief creative officer for Calvin Klein.
For some key excerpts from Raf’s sit-down with the publication, see below, then follow on over to GQ for the entire conversation.
Do you think that fashion and design can be a form of rebellion or resistance? With a situation like Donald Trump’s presidency, can it be a form of protest to design or to just get dressed in the morning?
Yes, I think it can be a form of resistance. But no more than any other person taking a position or speaking up. I don’t think that because it’s fashion it’s more of a resistance. It’s also difficult to talk about because one thing is that when you come as a European to America, it’s already quite something. My whole existence had a very specific foundation in Europe. Belgium, Paris, Milan. My company was established there and is based there still. But I had to rethink the whole thing because the one thing that I said is that, if I step into a new creative director position, I’m not traveling anymore. I came to an age where I found that to be the very annoying part of the job. Because I’m really still challenged by doing these two different things. I always like to do that.
What do you mean when you talk about the new youth of fashion? Do you mean young designers?
No. Spectators. And people that just bring out their opinion. People that have dialog with other people. I’m analyzing and analyzing and analyzing, trying to take it all in. Trying to figure out what it is that changed in fashion so much. And what changed in fashion so much is that it no longer belongs to a bourgeoisie small environment.
I was actually someone who was very often saying that fashion keeps thinking that it can serve everybody, that it can be there for everybody, high fashion. I’m sorry, but high fashion was always for a small environment. High fashion by nature used to be extreme. Right now we define a lot of things as high fashion, but they’re not high fashion. They’re clothes. They’re clothes on the runway with a nice little twist of styling and coloration. Everybody thinks it’s high fashion. Bullshit. There is very little high fashion.
There are some designers now—and I’m thinking of Virgil Abloh at Off-White, Demna Gvalasia with Vetements, Gosha Rubchinskiy—who are connecting with the youth through fashion in a new way. Are there any young designers today that inspire or excite you?
Anyone in particular?
Not Off-White. He’s a sweet guy. I like him a lot actually. But I’m inspired by people who bring something that I think has not been seen, that is original. It’s not always about being new-new because who is new-new?
Follow on over to GQ for the entire conversation.