Throughout a 25-year career, Raf Simons has established himself as one of the industry’s hottest designers. A move from furniture into menswear design in 1995 saw him shoot to fashion stardom thanks for his work at his label, reframing the relationship of pop culture, art and clothing and boasting positions with Jil Sander, Dior, and of course, Calvin Klein. From paying homage to flemish painters on couture gowns, to sliding references to Jaws into spring collections – the 51-year-old has certainly shaken up the fashion world.
Simons is born in Neerpelt, Belgium.
While studying industrial and furniture design in Genk, Simons interns for Walter Van Beirendonck. He takes Simons to Martin Margiela’s Spring 1990 all-white show, his first fashion show and the reason Simons cites for his desire to become a fashion designer.
Simons graduates from his course, along the way making friends with Olivier Rizzo, Willy Vanderperre and Veronique Branquinho, who continue to remain the designers collaborators.
Simons establishes his eponymous brand. An early collection is presented as an 8mm film featuring Branquinho. Celebrating an alternative masculinity this series of early collections remains some of his most recognizable and influential designs.
Held at Impasse de Mont-Louis, Simons has his first menswear show in Paris.
Collaborating with Rizzo and Vanderperre, a photo of Robbie Snelders with Mickey Mouse painted on his face donning a Raf Simons coat, becomes the inaugural V Magazine cover and gains widespread publicity.
Simons teaches in the fashion department at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.
Simons’s eponymous menswear label marks its 10th anniversary.
Simons is appointed Creative Director at Jil Sander. Unveiling his first collection for Fall 2006, the debut marked the designer’s first women’s designs.
Simons moves away from Sander’s austere minimalism in favour of a couture inspired collection boasting gowns styled like t-shirts tucked into skirts. With the return of Jil Sander, Simons debuts his final collection for Fall 2012.
Simons is appointed Creative Director at Dior. He debuts with a Fall 2012 Haute Couture collection full of femme fleur, drawing on signature Dior.
Simons’ love of adidas Stan Smith sneakers becomes a business deal, updating the design in vibrant colors with a perforated R detail.
Simons stages Dior’s Spring 2013 Haute Couture collection in Paris. One of the finale gowns, a bulb-skirted pale pink number, is worn by Jennifer Lawrence at that year’s Academy Awards.
Los Angeles–based artist Sterling Ruby and Simons collaborate on a menswear collection for Fall 2014.
Simons is named chief creative officer of Calvin Klein, overseeing the brand’s subsets, marketing and communications.
Simons brings his pop culture love to life as he announces the Kardashian-Jenner family as the new faces of Calvin Klein Underwear and Calvin Klein Jeans. The campaign also starred Solange Knowles and A$AP Mob.
Simons and Calvin Klein part ways in a move that rocks the fashion world.
January 12, 1968
Despite parting with CK, you can of course still cop Simons gear at a reasonable price. His sneaker partnership with adidas continues to reign, with a new iteration of the Replicant Ozweego announced in March 2019. Simons has been king of the bulky and chunky sneaker for years and his most recent trippy gradient colorway is no exception. The designer has also spent at least half his working life collaborating with Fred Perry – with the duo creating a 10-year anniversary collection in 2018 featuring 100 iconic archive items.