Cultural Statement: Raf Simons ‘Youth in Motion’ FW18 text by Valerie McPhail


Raf Simons gave us something to feast on. Belgian waffles, jello platters and wine unmistakably displayed as décor, were also elements of a party to which invitees partook in the waiting moments of the show. As the accompanied instrumental music casually silenced, a deep base permeated the atmosphere. Strobe lights flashed like sirens and guests fist pumped and bumped to the beat.

The experience gave perspective on this Fall/Winter 2018 collection. Graphics, a birthmark of the designer’s creations shared images of Christiane F. and Detlev, characters in the novel and 1981 film Wir Kinder vom Bahnof Zoo. Their portraits, featured on t-shirts and kneecaps of trousers represent a dialogue about drug use and addiction.

 Drug abbreviations ‘LSD,’ ‘GHB’ and ‘2C-B’ addressed voluptuous knits and block shaped patches. The narcotic theme made a bold appearance when referenced to Cookie Mueller and Glenn O’Brien’s play of the same name – “Drugs” printed on hooded ponchos.

These details offer an ode to couture design. Through the featured graphics and texts, Simons shares a story about drug use. The paradox is, that such cultural fixations could speak louder than the story telling of the industry’s lux satin duchesse, materializing track pants, or the cardinal black suit of the collection. The dialogue is sobering. Leaving us with a lot to digest Raf Simons closed a short-lived New York Men’s Fashion Week.

Valerie McPhail

Valerie McPhail is a New York-based writer on things of style and artistic expression. She has a portfolio of writing for both fashion and art publications. Although she enjoys covering fashion news and supporting new designers, her favorite subject to explore is the experience of fashion and how life is communicated through clothing. She believes there is a lot to be said about this.