Raf Simons surprised the industry yesterday by announcing on the official Instagram account of his eponymous brand that the spring 2023 collection would be his last season. The show, launched during London’s Frieze Art Fair, became a party after the latest model hit the catwalk.
Simons launched his label in 1995 after working as a furniture designer and interning at the design studio of compatriot Walter Van Beirendonck. He quickly achieved cult status for his youth-oriented collections, which showcased his innate ability to distill inspiration from the art world and underground music into eminently recognizable minimalist silhouettes.
His spring collection included works by the late artist Philippe Vandenberg, and though we didn’t know it at the time, they proved prescient: “These are cruel words, like ‘Kill them all and dance.’ But he wasn’t talking about killing people,” the designer told Sarah Mower at the time. “He meant killing things that you’re doing creatively to move on and explore more.”
In his Instagram post, Simons wrote: “Words fail to share how proud I am of everything we have accomplished. I am grateful for the incredible support from my team, my partners, the press and buyers, my friends and family, and our devoted fans and loyal supporters. Thank you all for believing in our vision and for believing in me.”
When asked for his comments, Simons’ public relations team said the Instagram post would be the only official communication about this move. At the top of her post, she included the year 1995, when her firm debuted, and the names of her parents, Alda and Jacques. More cryptic are the phrases memory wear, likely a reference to her spring 2015 collection – whose clothing featured collaged objects from her childhood (a kitten, a roller coaster, an astronaut) as well as images of her parents as children. boyfriends- and Station to Station, a 1976 David Bowie album and song that featured prominently in the film Christiane F, a favorite of the designer (in 2018, he launched a capsule collection inspired by the film). Bowie has long been a cornerstone for Simons. There were screen-printed T-shirts with images of Aladdin Sane in his first collection, and his Calvin Klein debut opened with Bowie’s “This Is Not America.”
The next time we see Simons will be in January at the Prada menswear show in Milan. He has been the co-creative director of the brand since the beginning of 2020.