Since the launch of his menswear label in 1995, Belgian designer Raf Simons has consistently caught the zeitgeist of contemporary fashion, supplying menswear with a range of styles, shapes and symbols that articulate ideals of masculinity, influenced by European pop music, youth subcultures, mid-century fine art, modernist architecture, and interior design. This article examines the interdisciplinary relationship between Simons’ designs and their contextual influences, documenting how his signature, first established in menswear, has been transformed through his women’s wear collections for Jil Sander (2005-2012) and since 2012 for Christian Dior, where he has re-interpreted the house’s couture heritage. Drawing on archive material at the MoMu fashion museum in Antwerp and the Dior Impressions exhibition at the Christian Dior museum in Granville in 2013, this article further argues that a cross-gender dynamic is perceptible in Simons’ later designs, part of his formal or ‘neo-modern’ preoccupation with shape, color and technology. The article concludes by suggesting that Simons’ nomination at one of the most prestigious of the Parisian fashion houses and global luxury brands positions him as heir to the artistic and architectural strand of the couturier’s legacy, making him instrumental in Dior’s projection of its design heritage.
- Contemporary Fashion Design