The artist currently featured at the Serpentine Gallery in London is the Turner Prize-winning Mark Leckey, whose most famous work is Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, a video piece that distills two decades of English club culture into 15 minutes. It was an early influence on Raf Simons, and he returned to it today with a men's collection for Jil Sander that aimed to similarly telescope the style of each of the postwar decades into one disorienting whole. If in theory, that meant forties to noughties; in practice, it resulted in a collection as fragmented as the soundtrack, which mashed together shards of Bowie, Bauhaus, and Teutonic electronica in an aural assault. Maybe it was that sound that provoked the hard-edged images of Berlin in the early eighties that defined the look and style of the show. Simons himself envisaged something like Blade Runner, with its uncomfortable collision of cultures.
Time was as fluid as gender in a collection that saw one model dressed in the kind of high-waisted rah-rah shorts last seen on forties pinups, another in shorts in an oil-slick techno fabric that came from tomorrow. There were plenty more shorts—Simons felt they added dynamism to the show. A crocheted sweater, with all its connotations of folksy home crafts, was covered with a clear PVC jacket from a perv-y sci-fi movie. A straight-from-film-noir navy suit with a tightly tailored jacket and baggy pants shared runway space with second-skin coats in lacquered eelskin. The models had body bags strapped across their chests, the kind of thing a surfer might wear to keep his stuff dry, or a traveler might keep documents in. Maybe that hint of the young global nomad spurred the sense that the collection was somehow unfinished. "The Generation of Today is a Generation of All Times," announced the press notes, but youth itself is unfinished, which is why Simons is perpetually drawn back to it as the central preoccupation of his work. Today's show suggested it might be time to move on.