Brands You Should Know

Raf Simons

Photo: Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images

Simons takes a bow after his Fall 2010 runway show for Jil Sander.

In 1995 a successful young Belgian furniture designer by the name of Raf Simons decided to renounce his present career and strike out on a different path. Ultimately, of course, Simons’s strong aesthetic sense kept him in the creative field—and the fashion-world autodidact made a rash life change look like destiny. Taking inspiration from sources as disparate as British schoolboys, Kraftwerk, Andy Warhol, and Antonioni’s Blow-Up, the designer’s earliest collections were immediately recognized for their unique spin on street-ready attire—even if his artistic presentations (alternately taking place outdoors, in a U.F.O., and in a simulated version of the Addams Family house) saw him labeled as avant-garde. But no sooner had he established his eponymous brand when, again feeling restless, Simons shut down the label in 2000. Briefly segueing into academia, Simons took over as head professor of the Fashion Department of the University of Applied Arts, Vienna. But a year later a fortuitous partnership with Belgian manufacturer Gysemans prompted Simons to throw his hat back in the game, and he relaunched his line in 2001 to great fanfare. Simons tends toward minimalism, paring his designs back to the clean, crisp essentials of form, and his clothes are always extraordinarily well-tailored with a bold, youthful color palette. His work for Raf Simons and Jil Sander, for whom he has been creative director since 2005, displays a luxurious craftsmanship that is rare in our time—indeed, it may even be on the endangered list. Simons recently announced that he had severed ties with his manufacturer, casting doubt as to when his latest collection would actually be available to stores. Maybe he’s just feeling that it’s time to do something else.

Get Raf Simons while you still cantoday at noon ET on Gilt MAN.

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  1. Christopher says:

    Raf Simons is undoubtledy the greatest menswear designer of my generation. I am twenty years old and I cannot find any designer that makes such a progression that is relevant to today. I hope more of his clothing will show up on Gilt so it can reach a greater audience with a price point that is accesible. His work is by far the greatest.

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