Patrick Michael Hughes- Senior Fashion Editor Men's Fashion Writer
Images Raf Simmons
LONDON: On October 10th Buckingham Palace was pleased to announce that the Coronation of His Majesty The King will happen on Saturday 6th May, 2023. The Coronation Ceremony will take place at Westminster Abbey, London and will be conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The announcement is perfectly timed, not only because it's a much needed celebration in the UK.....in fact a celebration of anything for the British people to distract from the economy and drama of politics is a good thing. The early spring ceremonies announcement is also well timed for wardrobe planning from spring tailoring to couture ordering at the highest level.
Belgium designer Raf Simons presented his postponed runway collection in London, after the country's mourning period. It was a celebration of London techno and rave an underground energy with a particular look back to the late nineteen eighties. It was a time when techno was cutting edge and the fashion transition form New Wave was emerging. In many ways techno was an announcement of the digital age threshold. Raf Simons' Spring 2023 featured austere tailoring, such as jackets without sleeves and fully cut pleated short trousers in thigh grazing lengths. There were also a number cardigan iterations drawing attention to fine knit textiles in tank tops and tunic silhouettes.
One of the stand out artistic tunics featuring the Ghent artist Philippe Vanderberg (1952-2009).
During the nineteen eighties he was known for Splinter Paintings, an approach to the canvas where he deconstructed the human figure into crucifixions in minimalist black and white shapes arranged in rhythmical grids. It was his his exposure to to the New York art scene and his work during the later part of the decade which were among the artist's greatest career highlights. It was during this period after being exhibited at the fashionable Denise Cadé Gallery his work resulted in the acquisition of one of his paintings by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. In New York the artist discovered the work of Philip Guston a Canadian- American painter, printmaker and muralist. Vanderberg's paintings became ever more radical. He began to use motifs from the graffiti art and street art an ascending genre fueled by the popular art market rise of creatives such as Keith Haring and Futura 2000.
Simons used Vanderberg's work where compositions of letters and words transition into geometrical grids. This was a particular style the artist worked on later in life in Ghent.
Both Raf Simons and Philippe Vanderberg share an interest in youth culture. Simons Spring 2023 collection was held at Printworks at Canada Water a nightclub space in South London. The warehouse venue is the former Harmsworth Quays printing plant, which printed newspapers British newspapers such as the Daily Mail and Evening Standard. Currently, it's a popular electronic music space hosts rave parties. The large dark club setting filled with loud music, green strobe lights was the ideal location for an extensive elevated runway which later transformed back to a bar when the show was over for the afterparty.
What Simons showed is what many who look at his work know, Raf Simons is nothing else but Raf Simons. He is not a designer behind a brand nor a partnership or the great hope of a couture house his work is uniquely his own voice. This is where his creative vocabulary for the body and its physicality transcends to the fore. His presentation of bodysuits, motorcycle jackets were fully consistent and connected through design and a creative vision that is 'Belgium Fashion'. The designer is true to his heritage. 'Belgium Fashion' occupies a space where the sensibilities are still avant-garde and edgy as well as being historically rooted to a formality reflecting the wealth of a kingdom in Western Europe and headquarters of the European Union and NATO.
Raf Simons consistency of using tights in the past and for the forthcoming season as bright accents of color were a fresh take on his branding and a modern update of a nineties club look. The male casting were modern models representing global European diversity. This was a beautifully presented jet black runway resembling a modern electronic concert where the DJ is the star, but in this scenario it was the fashion. It was a minimalist and nostalgic profile and parade of styles featuring singularly Raf Simons fashion.