Every week, we at Highsnobiety take some time to highlight one of our favorite brands around. Last week, we featured iconic headwear brand Kangol, and this week we’ve decided to shine a light on Belgian-born designer Raf Simons.
Adored by both streetwear and high-fashion circles, Raf Simons’ actual background surprisingly wasn’t in fashion design. In fact, Raf graduated in Industrial and Furniture Design in 1991, before starting a career as an interior designer for several art galleries around Belgium. With the encouragement of Linda Loppa, head of the Fashion Department at Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Simons first tried his hand at menswear design in 1995.
It was in the same year that Raf’s eponymous brand came to life, along with his first ever collection of menswear for the FW95 season. The first works from the brand combined youth apparel with grown-up business attire and uniform-like clothing — no surprise considering Raf’s Catholic school education; a uniform-heavy environment. Having escaped the mundanity of his hometown through music like many other teens of his time, he also used the artform as design inspiration.
With time, Raf Simons became a staple in the fashion world, with an additional line of menswear, Raf by Raf Simons, debuting in 2005. In the same year, Simons was appointed as Creative Director at Jil Sander despite having never designed womenswear, where he remained until 2012 before replacing John Galliano as Artistic Director of French fashion house Christian Dior. While at Dior, Simons was able to impart his love for modern aesthetics without hindering the label’s traditionally romantic designs. He announced his departure from the French label in October of 2015 and became Calvin Klein’s Chief Creative Officer the following year.
Raf Simons designs have since resonated with a number of streetwear’s most influential enthusiasts, including artists from Kanye West to Vic Mensa and Rihanna. A$AP Mob, A$AP Rocky’s own crew, even dedicated an entire song to the designer (with the help of Quavo, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, and Frank Ocean) featuring the now-iconic catchphrase in the intro: “Please, don’t touch my Raf.” In the same song, Quavo’s verse features the line “H** don’t step on my Raf Simons.” The video for “RAF” also pays homage to Simons’ very first collection, which was shot in Milan at Daniele Ghiselli’s showroom.
Just like A$AP Rocky, we at Highsnobiety love a good Raf Simons piece. Our Curator Rhianna Matthews is particularly fond of the brand’s latest FW18 collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week back in February. The collection takes inspiration from the iconic 1981 movie, Christiane F. — We Children of Bahnhof Zoo, based on the non-fictional book depicting the life of a teenage girl in West Berlin’s ’70s drug scene.
“This is a very special moment for Raf,” says Rhianna. “For the first time, the designer has his own online store. This exclusive drug-inspired collaboration for FW18 stays true to his brand, with the leather patchwork and oversized fits, while still directly referencing Christiane F.’s story. I feel like this collection really digs deep into its inspiration’s roots, and the imagery used really brings out the emotions of what was going on in West Berlin at the time.”
In the film (as in real life), Christiane’s first experience with heroin takes place at a David Bowie concert, the man who incidentally scored the movie. The fact that the designer himself grew up listening to the late, great Bowie, among other artists of that era, makes the muse for the collection all the more fitting.
Available to buy now, the new “Christiane F.” line includes T-shirts, hoodies, jeans, jackets and tote bags, all featuring scenes and imagery from the movie. What’s more, a portion of the profits from the collection will go towards supporting organizations dedicated to drug addiction and recovery, so your purchase will be going towards a good cause.
Peep our favorite pieces from the collection below, and click through to cop your favorites.
Now, find out where to where to cop Raf Simons’ Belgium-inspired RS Replicant Ozweegos.
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