Raf Simons F/W 2018 ‘Youth in Motion’

A strong statement from Raf Simons with his FW18 capsule collection ‘Youth in Motion’. Scenography included flowers, and Dionysus lifestyle (god of wine, dance usually appealing to instincts, chaos and irrationality as well as strong emotions). The scene reflects the indescribably pleasurable nature of being a part of fashion environment, having a power and being materialist. The youth has no limits. They do what they want.

“Youth In Motion’ is presented in a mise-en-scene that echoes the salons of mid-century couture houses: the discrete number of models employed, the numbering system that identifies specific looks, and the opulent tableaux (food, drink, and flowers), itself reminiscent of a Flemish still-life. ‘Youth In Motion’ contrasts the volume and extravagant materiality of couture (evident in Simons’ use of satin duchesse) with the more utilitarian manners of pocketed ‘space’ pants and hooded tabards with their indexical narcotic references.”

‘Youth In Motion’ contrasts the volume and extravagant materiality of couture

In creation of this collection, Raf Simons had several inspirations and the message is clear – the voice rising from this collection is about the emerging use of drugs amongst the young as well as irrationally hedonist lifestyle. This takes into account the complex relationship between creative industries, fashion, artists and these chemical substances. It is a voice that speaks up to drug addicted to assist them in recover. “Ultimately, ‘Youth In Motion’ seeks to neither glorify nor condone the culture(s) of drugs; rather Simons seeks instead to consider the persistent, almost ubiquitous presence of narcotics (prescribed or otherwise) within our society and acknowledge our often conflicted relationships with them; in turn opening up a more nuance dialog around the implications for a society where addiction and the causes of addiction remain largely taboo subjects, with – as both Christiane F. and the current opioid crisis demonstrate – often untold human consequences. Part of the proceeds from sales of the ‘Youth In Motion’ collection will be donated to organizations that support those in recovery from addiction.”

In creation of this collection, Raf Simons had several inspirations and the message is clear – the voice rising from this collection is about the emerging use of drugs amongst the young as well as irrationally hedonist lifestyle.

The main influences for Belgian origin designer Raf Simons were: Christiane F. – Uli Edel’s visceral 1981 film (based on Christiane Felscherinow, Kai Hermann and Horst Rieck’s book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo). With many others in the same generation also Raf Simons was exposed to world of Christiane F. where the film and the book was discussed in highschool as the part of the curriculum. “Set in late 1970s, cold war-era Berlin – the Berlin of David Bowie’s Low, Heroes and Lodger – Christiane F. ultimately remains a cautionary tale, one that unashamedly and unapologetically depicts the realities of drug use and addiction. Images of Detlev and Christiane F., the film’s anti-heroes – as played by first-time actors Thomas Haustein and Natja Brunckhorst – populate ‘Youth In Motion’ as emotional markers for the persistent relevance – socially and psychologically – of Christiane F.’s story and Edel’s film.”

Looking at the collection outfits we can see that Raf Simons is using the image of Natja Brunckhorst, from the German official movie poster while the typography of the collection implies movement – across space and time, and between inner and external realities – and draws freely from the lexicons of art, cinema, literature, music, the counter culture and the ‘attitude’ of couture.

Other strongly influential work from authors Cookie Miller and Glenn O’Brien ‘Drugs’ is reinterpreted in colored patches attached to fashion garments. “Cookie Mueller (1949-1989) and Glenn O’Brien’s (1947-2017) ‘lost’ mid-1980s tragic-comic play Drugs, another kind of cautionary tale that chronicles the “chemical entanglements” of its straight-out-of-central-casting protagonists. The utilitarian design of the 2016 edition of Drugs (The Kingsboro Press/For The Common Good) – published with yellow and orange covers – is a recurring visual motif throughout ‘Youth In Motion’, as are Simons’ subsequent adaptations of its ‘basic’ design to create a series of applied, color-coded patches that index, in a deadpan manner akin to the Periodic Table, the abbreviated names of narcotic substances: ‘LSD’, ‘XTC’, ‘GHB’ and ‘2C-B’, each with their own specific generational and (sub)cultural associations.” Colored patches adapted in design, speak strongly about the drug culture when many in society even knowing that it is existing right next to us are afraid to speak out loud. This collection looks deeply inside the culture of youth and is an announcement to not fret none of this dialogue and rather start to acknowledge these complicated relationships between the human and chemical. Taboo is falling and society should start to understand and speak about the consequences and causes of addiction.