Cop a Look: Raf Simons from the 1990s

November 14, 2011

Spring/Summer 1998 "Black Palms" collection.

Raf Simons is one of the fashion industry's hallmark names, designing an eponymous collection for men and, more recently, a women's line for Jil Sander that have become some of the most influential, coveted clothes on earth. He's prized not only for his technical skill—the cutting-edge fabrics and laser-sharp tailoring that define his work—but for the smart, conceptual ideas behind his clothing as well. In the '90s, he only made men's clothing, and so he was unfettered by the obligations of women's high fashion, the competition and the pressures of an internet audience that judges your work the second it's on the runway. His ’90s collections were inspired by seedy California culture, almost seeming like the better version of something you'd find at the lost and found of a cheap motel—perfectly slashed T-shirts and loose, sleeveless button-down shirts. A tough, uncaring, all-black collection was made vibrant and cheeky with leather versions of Hanes sweatshirts.

Fall/Winter 1999 "Disorder Incubation Isolation" collection.

Simons' expertise is tailoring hard-to-tailor fabrics, tech materials and cowhides that shouldn't be supple, but that become as soft as silk in his hands. A sleeveless, polyester Hawaiian shirt shouldn't be chic, but Simons makes it so. He's also mastered cool, injecting a certain kind of casualness into designs that, in fact, take a lot of planning and effort. Runways of late have been filled with Simons-esque designs, like Patrik Ervell’s spring collection, which took cues from Simons' amazing ability to mold leather in the coolest way and influential Japanese brand sasquatchfabrix’s grungey, Los Angeles-hip recent collection.

Spring/Summer 1999 "Kinetic Youth" collection.

"Isolated Heroes" portraits, in collaboration with David Sims. (images via Hapsical)

Buy the look:

Patrik Ervell fight suit

sasquatchfabrix wool and cowhide bomber jacket

Williamokpo sleeveless linen trench

Reyn Spooner Ano Ano shirt

Cop a Look: Raf Simons from the 1990s