The setting for Raf Simons' latest
presentationthe rooftop of La Défense,
President Mitterand's monument to Parisian
modernitywas just the sort of location the
designer has sought out in the past. And the pulsing
electrodance soundtrack also had echoes of earlier
shows. But the subtle news here was the peace that
Simons has made with his former bête
noirefashion itself. Backstage, after a show that was superbly focused on technique and distilled to a palette of black, white,
and gray, he said so himself. "I really wanted to show
fashion!" he yelped.
From an opening salvo of ribbed knitwear (patterned, perhaps, like a bedspread he might remember from the village he grew up in) to a duffel coat with gleaming metallic toggles to a huge doubled, how-did-he-do-that padded jacket, Simons paraded a series of pieces that are sure to edge their way to the top of shopping lists next fall. Just how did he achieve that doubled effect? Two jackets were attached at the collar, then one was fitted inside the other, the result a great swoosh of featherlight volume that invoked a sort of space-age sleeping bag (to underscore the point, the song playing at this point was an anthem by Depeche Mode sound-alikes DK7 called Sleeping Bag).
Volume, in fact, was key to this collection. For several seasons, Simons has been experimenting with trousers cut samurai-large, but for fall, all the pants were cigarette-slim and the emphasis was up top, with the neck a particular focus for funnel collars or hoods that massed around the throat. This had the effect of framing his young models' faces, romantically exalting their youth. And in that, at least, Simons was entirely consistent with his past.