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Raf Simons makes London debut with stripped back 80s collection

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: Raf Simons SS23

After delaying his runway show in respect of the Queen’s death, Raf Simons finally took to London to showcase the brand’s spring/summer 2023 collection in what was the designer’s first show in the UK city.

Set in the nightclub establishment Printworks, the event was hosted simultaneously to the art fair Frieze, for which Simons is a patron too and had therefore been set as the premise for the show’s after-party.

The runway itself also took on the appearance of a party setting, with dimmed lights, strobes and thumping music provided by French DJ Clara 3000.

Image: Raf Simons SS23

Unlike the array of designers that adopted the Y2K trend which ran rampant throughout other fashion weeks, Simons instead looked to the 1980s for his inspiration, as seen in the choice of neon greens and anarchic graphics.

The collection, however, was arguably one of Simons’ most toned down lines yet, with the selection of tailored blazers and biker jackets designed as “radical gestures of simplicity”, as detailed in a press release.

What Simons didn’t hold back on was the assortment of cultural references made throughout, with items that could be linked to everything from new wave to punk movements.

Image: Raf Simons SS23

This rang particularly true for a selection of t-shirts and accessories that were made in collaboration with the estate of Philippe Vandenberg. Creations by the late artist were plastered on designs via all-over prints, with a distinct focus on his text works and handwriting.

Through the texts, Vandenberg, who based his work around a man’s struggles in cultural and social history, wanted to send out messages that give cause for consideration, something Simons was hoping to portray in using the artworks for the collection.

A consistent item that appeared throughout much of the offering was that of fine-gauge knit rompers, each complete with saggy bottoms and various fastenings, designed as genderless wardrobe items.

These were a continuation of the designer’s minimalist concept, which was also applied to streamline pants, simplified tailored skirts and silhouette hugging pieces.

Image: Raf Simons SS23
London Fashion Week
Raf Simons