Raf Simons bigraphy, stories - Belgian fashion designer

Raf Simons : biography

12 January 1968 -

Raf Simons () (born 12 January 1968) is a Belgian fashion designer. Beginning in furniture design, he launched his own menswear label in 1995. In April 2012 was announced as the creative director at Christian Dior.

Raf Simons label

Encouraged by Linda Loppa, head of the fashion department at the Antwerp Royal Academy, Simons became a self-trained menswear designer and launched his Raf Simons label in 1995.

His first collection was in Fall-Winter 1995, and featured two street models in a video presentation. From Fall-Winter 1995 to Spring-Summer 1997, Simons' collections were shown either in presentations or videos. Fall-Winter 1997 saw his first runway show in Paris, France with a look of 'American college students and English schoolboys with a background of New Wave and Punk'.

Simons' early aesthetic incorporated youth culture from divergent sources, such as the Spring-Summer 2000 collection taking inspiration from both MENSA students and the Gabba youth subculture (a predominantly Dutch and Belgian movement associated with hardcore techno music). Music has formed an integral part of Simons’ work, with references to musical figures such as the Manic Street Preachers's Richey Edwards and Joy Division’s Ian Curtis and his Fall-Winter 1998 collection (Radioactivity) featuring members of German electo band Kraftwerk as models.

In March 2000, Simons shut down his company to take a sabbatical after his Fall-Winter 2000 collection (Confusion). Following a new deal with Belgian manufacturer, Gysemans Clothing Industry, the company was started back up again for Fall-Winter 2001. During this time, Simons' international prominence grew with the collection for Spring-Summer 2002 (Woe Onto Those Who Spit On The Fear Generation...The Wind Will Blow It Back) becoming one of his most influential due to its 'layered, hooded, sinister image of the urban guerrilla'.

In 2003, Simons received the Swiss Textiles Award, receiving material benefits at the value of 100,000 euros.

The company was restructured in October 2004 with a distribution deal with Futurenet (Europe and USA) and Mitsui (Asia), followed by a license agreement with Futurepresent (joint-venture of Futurenet and Mitsui Italia). This deal came to an end with the Spring-Summer 2011 collection.

The aesthetic of the Raf Simons brand has changed since 2005, as former Arena Homme Plus editor Jo-Ann Furniss asserts: "The key turning point was A/W 04-05 (Waves), when the obsessive youth culture codes of his past were turned into clothes that were purely about shape and form."

In June 2005, Raf by Raf Simons was launched, which was sold at a lower price point. Simons also released the book Raf Simons: Redux about the first 10 years of his career. Alongside the publication, there was also an exhibition of Simons' work and an outdoor fashion show at the Pitti Immagine Uomo tradeshow in Florence, Italy for a retrospective of the designer's career at the age of 38.

In 2008, two flagship Raf Simons stand-alone stores opened in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, in collaboration with the artists Sterling Ruby and Roger Hiorns.

Autumn-Winter 2009 saw the first Raf Simons advertising campaign, photographed by Willy Vanderperre.

In 2011, Raf by Raf Simons was replaced by Raf Simons 1995, a diffusion line incorporating elements from Simons' early collections. Raf Simons 1995 also includes homeware, namely blankets and cushions.

Collaborations

Since 2008, Simons has created collections in collaboration with British brand Fred Perry. From Spring-Summer 2008 onwards, Simons has collaborated with Linda Farrow on a collection of sunglasses for the brand. Since Fall-Winter 2009, Simons has also collaborated with running shoe manufacturer Asics. For the Fall-Winter 2013 show, a new limited-edition footwear collaboration with Adidas was announced featuring five different designs.

Simons has designed three collaborations with French bag manufacture Eastpak: Spring-Summer 2008, Fall-Winter 2008 and Spring-Summer 2009. The collaboration is set to continue for the Fall-Winter 2013 season.

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Living octopus

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