Whether it's with tributes to the things that inspired him as a youth, or by adorning his clothes with images from his childhood, Raf Simons' work has always contained a deeply personal element. For Fall/Winter 2016, his first eponymous collection since leaving Dior, Simons quite literally went back to his roots - returning to his school days with a collection of collegiate clothing that cited David Lynch as a major inspiration.
To show his unsettling vision of boyhood, Simons converted a Parisian warehouse into a maze. The space's blank grey walls, dark corners and echoing soundtrack forced the show's attendees to navigate their way through the dark, jostling for space to stand in - this room had no seating, just like at your local techno dungeon. It made for a fittingly immersive experience for the designer, who's never shy of celebrating the appeal of obscure subcultures.
Rafs boys were young; really young. Just like in a David Lynch movies, it seemed there was something sinister going on behind these cookie cutter, ’50s Americana looks. The boys paced around the space like a troupe of traumatized school kids - their hair slicked back, clothes two sizes too big and sweaters chewed to pieces. Leather bags, collegiate lettering and piped detailing all furthered the boyhood theme.
It wasn't all theatrics and dark undercurrents, though. Raf Simons hasn't become one of the most relevant men's designers working today just by putting on conceptual shows - he makes clothes that people want, need, to wear. Given streetwear's current taste for all things grungy and distressed, it's not hard to imagine those shredded sweaters causing mayhem when they hit retailers in the latter half of the year. Likewise the huge, engulfing outerwear - one of Raf's hallmarks.
When the lights came up, Simons sprinted headlong into his labyrinth, shaking hands, cheering with joy and grinning from ear to ear. He was clearly elated to be back where he belongs. Judging from the roars and applause from the show's audience, they're delighted he's back, too.
For more from Paris Fashion Week, check out the latest collection from OFF-WHITE.