In a dusky club in outer Paris, mirrored mannequins hung from the ceiling in an array of slightly pornographic poses. Strobe lights and techno music bounced off the walls and a mini runway zigzagged through the room. There were no seats here, onlookers were hustled together next to the likes of A$AP Rocky, and all were flustered and excited; Raf Simons had returned to Paris after many a moon in New York.
Simons’ show was a step away from streetwear shapes and a move into something almost new romantic in its formality. Boxy coats in canary yellow, emerald and blue - some single-breasted, some with triple rows of buttons - were all made of duchesse satin, whilst others of the same kin had an almost dégradé Margiela quality to them. This satin was on just about everything. Notoriously difficult to use, its prevalence in this collection signifies that the days of oversized hoodies and trainers might be behind us.
Not set to disappear anytime soon is Simons' use of print and image. This season saw roll-neck t-shirts embellished with imagery of punkish teens from the late seventies - supposedly taken at a Clash concert. Robert Mapplethorpe, Peter Saville, Christiane F; each season seems to insist upon an image reference. While it has been the lynchpin of a collection’s success in some cases, one feels like it is becoming a bit like Simons’ novelty statement t-shirt. This collection would be just as successful without.
Laser cut vests that mimicked six-pack plastics, pull tab earrings, black smudged eyes and an importance of chrome and metals nodded to the seventies punk and sex scenes. So too did the brilliant chunky boots that featured qualities from both the Ozweego and the Detroit Runner trainer. Scarves that threaded from neck to blazer pocket gave sharp shoulders an effeminate flair. You saw that especially in the glitter up backs of trousers, the large thick knitted lurex gold and silver jumpers and the exposed shoulder on t-shirts. It felt new rave, new romantic, and genuinely new for Simons.
This collection was dramatic; the materials, the finish, the club-like ambience. Perhaps the approachability of Simons’ work is slightly diminished because of such elements, but one feels that can be no bad thing. To gauge the interest of your younger, perhaps sportier, demographic with a couture fabric such as duchesse satin, is no mean feat, but a triumph was accomplished with this collection.