The oversized invitation to the Raf Simons show on Wednesday night had both the designer's and that of the American artist Sterling Ruby emblazon across its front. It was quite a significant statement from the Belgian designer who felt the collection was a completely collaborative effort between himself and Ruby.
The two men have been friends for almost a decade. And if the duo is to be believed, this collection has been percolating between them for almost as long. “We have a lot of similarities both in esthetics but also, you know, likes and dislikes across the board: music, culture, geography, politics, colors,” said Ruby about what drew the two artists together.
What this meant on the catwalk was a riotous sartorial explosion of two creative minds coming together to create something bigger and bolder then either one could have accomplished on his own. From Simons came the expertly balanced proportions. His deftly executed oversized outerwear and slim ankle length pants becoming the perfect foil for Ruby’s multi medium forms of self expression. So that a sporty black pullover top would be embellished with “iron on” images of the gaping jaws of a shark, hands clawing the fabric with dagger like nails or random works like “father” or “Abus Lang” designed to provoke a reaction- any reaction- in the audience.
There was a real exploration of texture in the collection. Coats and tops came covered in random strips of fabrics, rainbow stripes lined up along cuffs or hems, and knitted sweaters adorned with thick knitted patches gave the garments an even chunkier silhouette. All of it paired with bulbous toed “Olive Oyl” boots and a few slim attaché cases or mini sleeping bag-esque totes.
After the show Simons said, “I really don’t see this as my brand. I see this as our brand.” A truism if ever there was one.