In recent years, he has been hailed as one of the most influential designers in the fashion industry. Especially since he in 2005 took over the designer pen of former Prada Group-owned Jil Sander. But unlike other big fashion designers, he was not their aesthetic skills with milk.
– I was never on and play with my mom’s dresses, or anything like that, says Raf Simons in an interview in the magazine Dazed and Confused.
Raf Simons was born in 1968 in Neerpelt, in the Belgian countryside. Raf was a pretty good student so parents pushed for him to study law, but Raf did other things. He began studying industrial design and graduated in 1991. After a short career as a furniture designer, an internship with countryman (and fashion designer) Walter Beirendonck and a visit to the Martin Margiela was clear. Raf Simons had been fascinated by the world of fashion, and in 1995 – eagerly cheered by Linda Loppa, Dean of Fashion Academy in Antwerp – he started his own label.
Despite the success of its own brand Simons decided in 2000 to make a Helmut Lang. That is put the pen on the shelf, with references to the hard business side of creative projects. To regain motivation Simons decided to completely leave the fashion industry, but it was a brief pause. Just one year later, after receiving the offer of a partnership with Belgian Gysemans Clothing industry, Raf Simons took up the design process again.
From the turn of the century until 2005 was Raf Simons head professor of fashion at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. In June 2005, after several strong seasons, released Simons budget line Raf by Raf Simons, and a month later he had been contracted as the new head designer at Jil Sander. And he certainly seems to identify with its predecessor.
– Jil Sander has always had a natural attraction for me. The brand has a purity, a moderation, seriousness. It is linked with a certain intellectualism and cultural awareness, and I link myself with it. Maybe it is a Northern European thing. Jil is German. I am Belgian. We grew up in the dark, you know, says Raf to Dazed and Confused.
One month after Raf Simons showed his first women’s collection for the label decided Prada Group’s management to sell Jil Sander to Change the Capitol Partners, a London-based investment company.
When Raf Simons designs clothes inspired he often youth cultures. In his own brand, he has in recent years proven up everything from glossy tights vests with garish, graphic designs. Simons says that the clothes are not the primary, but the attitude and feeling. He also says he does not want to be too obvious in its design language.
– I do not like things that are easy on the eye, I am attracted more of it hidden than it showed, says Raf to Dazed and Confused.
Raf Simons main motto is “Pride in individuality “and he tries to transform his influences of youth subcultures to new, modern statements. And it need not always be obvious neat when Raf Simons designs its collections.
– I like things that are good looking and ugly at the same time. When I was a child, I liked the movie “Christiane F”. It was about holding kids who hung out at the train station in Berlin and went to nightclubs and shot heroin, says Raf Simons in an interview in the newspaper Hint Magazine.
It seems, therefore, quite natural that Raf Simons uses only hand-picked models from Antwerp to their views.
– when I started it was nothing more than a reaction to 80th century stereotype model look. You know these guys with big muscles, square jaws – so boring. That and the fact that you could see the same guys modeling for Prada, Versace … so the differences between the various brands were meaningless. I hated clichés about fashion and glamor so I decided early on that my views must see and feel different answers Raf, the Hint Magazine, when asked if he believes that his choice of non-professional models is a political statement.
Future looks bright for Raf Simons. At a time when the future of blowing winds in the fashion industry, his idiom very topical. His collections are modern and innovative – not retrospective. It feels like Raf Simons, both own brand and at Jil Sander, making the future of clothes. And he could not be more clear himself:
– For me it’s very much about the future and innovative and I like it, he says in the interview in Dazed and Confused and continues:
– It is very beautiful to dream about the future.
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