A piece by young English sculptor Conrad Shawcross revolved hypnotically in the center of Raf Simons' show space, suggesting one of Leonardo's visionary contraptions. As it turned out, that was a pretty good place to start thinking about Raf's new collection. Leonardo was fascinated by the articulation of human appendages, hands and feet especially. And after today's show, Simons noted that "hands are important to create the shape of the future." The way he chose to draw attention to this point was by kitting his models out in fierce elbow-length gauntlets that suggested protection as much as creation.
They were a jarringly futuristic counterpoint to tweeds, leathers, and knits that were just about the most traditional clothes Simons has yet created, but that was no accident. One of the designer's aims this time was to make traditional things more contemporary. A tweed coat zippered open down its seams to reveal a nylon underlay (it suggested wings folded away, though perhaps that's simply because Simons has often evoked angels in his outerwear). A ribbed blue-gray cardigan coat wrapped an inky Lycra rollneck. And superb woven-wool jackets in an intense midnight blue were glazed as if by starlight in deep space. They embodied the essential paradox of Raf Simons's work: sleek futurism here, romantic melancholy there (perfectly reflected in the surging sound track by Icelandic electronic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson).
Like anyone who is absorbed by thoughts of things to come, Simons can only dream, but that seems to suit him fine: Sometimes it's best that dreams don't come true.