[R]af Simons once again set the bar for menswear with his third show in New York, entitled “Youth in Motion”. In a hollow event space, Simons installed a still-life set, replete with half-drunk glasses of wine, giant bouquets and piles of lemon peel. This deeply romantic but somewhat haunting set-up felt like vintage Raf, finding a way to bring art into the picture whilst emboldening the themes in his collection.
“Youth in Motion” featured classic Simons motifs – handsome boys elegantly wasted and dressed in directional silhouettes referencing the early post-punk era that the designer holds so dear.
Simons’ collections, with their fixation on youth, have always hinted at hedonism but this season was a collection that unashamedly references drug use. Lettering appeared on multiple garments reading “LSD”, “GHB” or “DRUGS”, whilst the ghostly figures of Christian F. and her friend Detlef (the teenage drugs addicts of 1970s Berlin immortalized in the book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder von Bahnhof Zoo) appeared blown up and plastered on the backs of coats or on the front of shirts.
Laced into the work of some designers, these references may have seemed flippant, insensitive to the dangers of narcotics, but Simons has shown a career-long affection for the youth. In this setting, drug use appeared not as a practice to be condemned or celebrated, but simply as a fact of life.
See all the looks from the show below.