Season after season, the Raf Simons runway show is a fashion week must-see. Although most of us aren’t there in the flesh, any good Raf fanatic or general fashion enthusiast is catching the livestream, or at the very least poring over the runway looks once they’ve made an entrance on the timeline. This time around, those particularly attuned to underground dance music might have noticed a pair of iconic logos – those of R&S Records and their ambient subsidiary Apollo.
The show’s final look featured a striking black and white blazer casually layered over a white tunic emblazoned with a black horse and inverted turquoise triangle – the R&S Records emblem, a cheeky homage to Ferrari’s logo. According to one of the label’s founders Renaat Vandepapeliere, the logo was created by he and Patrick Gypen one afternoon in Ghent, Belgium. The pair were “passionate about horses, and yes, Ferrari,” but their version of the horse is ”used as expression for dance – prancing, free, proud.”
It’s no secret that Raf Simons is into music, and that it has heavily influenced his work as a designer. Even in his fledgling years, he gestured to various genres and musicians. His SS00 collection referenced Gabber – a very fast, hardcore kind of techno that originated in Belgium and the Netherlands. When it comes to actual musicians, there’s of course his nods to figures like Richey Edwards of the Manic Street Preachers, Ian Curtis of Joy Division, electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, as well as using Peter Saville-designed artwork from New Order and Joy Division records, which have become some of the most covetable Raf grails.
So what’s the deal with R&S and Apollo Records? Why is it not completely out of left field for Raf to reference it in his designs? In a way, it was almost a matter of time before Raf Simons paid them tribute; a fan of underground dance music, especially that which hails from his home country, it’s a reference that could not be more on the nose for the designer, who, if you agree with Highsnobiety’s Christopher Morency’s post-show notes, seems to have stepped back into a more no-holds zone post-Calvin Klein. Whereas his tenure at the American brand had him somewhat awkwardly squeezing in references to things like classic horror movie Jaws, with his focus only on his namesake brand, Raf is now more free to return to his unique cultural roots, and harken back to the sweet, universe-expanding hedonism of rave culture.
Although musicians are typically more prone to becoming household names, in some homes where weird and wonderful electronic music is embraced with open arms, R&S Records is undoubtedly one. With canonical releases such as Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works 85-92, it would be hard to compile a comprehensive history of electronic music without including R&S releases.
As for how it all came together, according to Renaat Vandepapeliere – the “R” in R&S – he and “S” (his partner Sabine Maes) met Raf through a mutual friend, Raymond Jacquemyns, who designed all the early R&S covers as well as the Apollo logo (which appears a few looks before the final, on a white tunic peeking out of an unbuttoned black leather coat). When asked to what extent the inclusion of the logos was a collaboration between the label and the brand, Vandepapeliere simply replied, “Raf just called me [to ask] if he could use the R&S logo and Apollo logo.” With Vandepapeliere’s to-the-point email responses to our questions and Raf Simons including no show notes for SS20, it’s clear that both parties would like everything – the clothes, the culture, the history, and the music – to speak for itself.
R&S Records essential listening
Aphex Twin – Selected Ambient Works 85-92
Ada Kaleh – Chemare Cosmică
Yak – Termina EP
Joey Beltram – Beltram Vol. 1
Space Dimension Controller – The Pathway To Tiraquon6
Various Artists – In Order To Dance
Various Artists – 30 Years of R&S Records (1983-2013)