Raf Simons' message for Spring 2008? Forget MySpace, and find your space in the material world. Reconnect with reality! Sure, fashion's archidealist has always been engaged by the tribalism of the young, and rave culture is a constant for him (here, the Chemical Brothers were on the soundtrack), but this collection's main inspiration was also the season's least likely: the backpacker. Yep, that sandal-wearing, backpack-bearing tribe of international travelers, whose curiosity, energy, and open-mindedness were held up by Simons as antidotes to the inertia of what he calls the "www-generation." Avoid the obvious, he counseled.
The way he responded to his inspiration certainly did so. Conventional volumes and proportions were done away withT-shirts fell to mid-thigh, sweaters dropped to the knees, drawstrings tugged in sleeves, torsos, and trouser legs to create new silhouettes. Shortsthe backpacker's signature itemwere reconfigured in doubled layers of contrasting fabrics. Likewise, the backpacker's hiking sandal, rejigged as a color-blocked boot that might have been designed by Mondrian. High-performance tech fabrics in intense primary shades reflected the theme. And the dominant accessory waswhat else?an enormous backpack, color-coordinated with the outfit it accompanied. (Its presence aroused memories of the Spring 2007 women's show from Miuccia Prada, where the models also toted giant rucksacks.) After Simons' stunning fall show, where his signature tailoring was taken to new heights, the somewhat abstract nature of this one felt like a new direction, as though one chapter of his career might have closed and another was about to open. Whatever, there is no one else in fashion thinking these thoughts, let alone acting on them.