2017 will be a year of firsts for Raf Simons. After shocking the fashion world by leaving Dior in 2015, the Belgian-born fashion designer was named Chief Creative Officer for Calvin Klein last summer and is set to debut his first runway show with the brand this February. During Men’s Fashion Week, he showed his eponymous menswear collection in New York for the first time.
The collection, in collaboration with The Woolmark Company, showcases Merino wool knits and is the beginning of a partnership between the two labels. By experimenting with knits and creating textiles across various categories, Simons’ AW17 collection takes a traditional fabric like wool and makes it unique.
The clothes themselves are meant to evoke the feeling of arriving in New York and are a sort of ode to the energy and youth culture of the city. “I see the city as a city with incredible energy, incredible inspiration, incredible people… I think there’s an incredible freedom in the street with how the young generation dresses,” says Simons.
This energy coupled with the pride in individuality underlying all of Simons’ creative endeavors is especially evident in his latest collection: bold knits with variations on the instantly recognizable “I Heart NY” logo emblazoned on the front, oversized silhouettes reminiscent of a kid trying on his dad’s suits, and long coats that blend both youth with sophistication and male with female via duct tape-cinched waists.
Blurring gender lines is only one way Simons proves that inspiration is often the product of a crossover. Whether pulling from various textile materials or blending his European background with his new home in America, Simons champions a philosophy of shared inspiration that is evident in his experience in the home design industry.
“They inform each other,” says Simons of the relationship between his Ready To Wear fashion collection and his upholstery textiles, such as his 2016 collaboration with Danish textile manufacturer Kvadrat. “There is a constant evolution between all- furniture and fashion.”