Raf Simons explores fashion landscape at Antwerp’s Fashion Talks
today Nov 25, 2019
In one of the most anticipated events during this year’s Fashion Talks in Antwerp, Raf Simons spoke publicly for the first time since leaving Calvin Klein at the end of 2018.
The conversation with fashion critic Alexander Fury did not go into the Calvin Klein breakup: instead, the 800 people who paid to attend heard a powerful conversation that once again laid bare Raf Simons’ critical relationship with the fashion industry.
Simons talked about his upbringing in Antwerp, where he started his career in the '90s. And about Walter van Beirendonck, who was sitting in the audience, and how he helped him out in his early days. The designer also made a point of recalling how everybody in Antwerp’s fashion scene supported each other at the time.
“A designer today still has to create desire”
When asked about the role of the creative director today, Simons talked about the importance of focusing on the creative process. “A designer today still has to create desire,” said the Belgian fashion designer resolutely. A formula that had fallen into the background between all the presentations on sustainability and wearables in Antwerp.
Simons also reiterated his disapproval of the fast pace that prevails in the fast industry, with ever faster seasons and faster pre-fall and cruise collections.
“When I was at Dior I really felt an incredible pressure,” said the designer as he looked back at his time with the luxury maison. He was talking about the expectations of working with press, with journalists wanting to get a preview of the collections and be with him at the fittings in the days before a show.
His outlook for the future of designer fashion was not particularly optimistic. He spoke frankly about the superior emphasis placed on marketing and growth over couture and craftsmanship, condemning brands’ pursuit of commercialisation.
As the conversation with Fury drew to a close, his words were met with a roaring round of applause and a standing ovation.
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