Raf Simons / Sterling Ruby

Last night at Fashion Week in Paris, heavyweight Raf Simons, succeeded thoroughly in surprising us and the rest of the world in a way reminding of his early days at the end of the last century. Both the overall aesthetic and the impact of the event, in which Simons collaborated on a label tag-base with American artist Sterling Ruby make the collection destined to be the most talked about of the season. The collection is part Raf Simons’ signature immaculate tailored lines and part Sterling Ruby’s infatuation with aberrant psychologies. Presented in a form directly referring to the Punk/DIY patchwork Simons rose to fame with at the end of last century. Coats are collaged with pieces of fabric that seemed in an upward rush, about to fly off their foundation. Items are paint-spattered, bleach-splashed, a shark’s ravening maw can be seen, as a grasping hand with shiningly painted nails; “icons of consumption” according to Ruby. From the tailoring to these graphics; the show makes one realize how far ahead he continues to be, and more importantly how much influence Simons has had, and very likely will have, on menswear.

In a very revealing conversation with Dazed Digital, Simons talks about his first encounter with his collaborator: “I think back in the days when I found Sterling’s work, we’re talking nine years ago, I felt very much that I was entering the world from another kind of person. It’s so rare to be completely sucked into something. If you carry a brand or you’re an artist, I think it takes time to allow someone to connect very strongly to your work. You know, it’s a very important thing for us. This season it’s not just my brand, it’s our brand and I can’t even think about anyone else I could do this with. With Sterling it felt so natural, it just took me a long time to ask him, I was probably a bit scared that he would say no!”

Sterling did not have any hesitations to work with Simons and the collection ended up being a direct product of earlier work by both men. Sterling to Dazed Digital: “We realised that every single thing that we’ve done together has this kind of iconography of both of our past’s and our history’s. After nine years, and so many discussions about culture, geographics, everything, we both recognise and know our work. We respect one another as people. But you know, to do something like this and really take ourselves out of our comfort zone is super important for any sort of liberation.”

Simons again:

You know, for us, it was important to take the chance to get out of our own systems. I am completely, completely obsessed with trying to get out of the fashion system and I think Sterling is also interested in getting out of, maybe not a system, but like the kind of..


Well we both work within systems. There’s no doubt about that, but they’re creative systems so you’re constantly trying to come up with these catalysts that would make it more liberating experiences. We’re both very creative people so the idea of autonomy is, that’s like the most important thing that we could think of, particularly collaboratively. How do we create autonomy? Every month we worked on it, it got stronger and stronger. I think we realized after, maybe the third or fourth month, that we were really meant to do this.

Photography by Lea Colombo.

(Via Dazed Digital)