Raf Simons shows his love for New York City at NYFW: Men's debut
New York City’s fashion elite and international buyers and press rushed into the Gagosian Gallery in Chelsea for the Raf Simons fall 2017 runway show. The high energy on 21st Street came to halt and a hush fell over the venue as the lights dimmed marking not only the beginning of the show, but also Simons’ first-ever presentation during New York Fashion Week: Men’s.
The collection boasted a vast selection of outerwear and knitwear that remained youthful and raw despite its refined look. Many of the outerwear pieces were cinched at the waist with tape that said phrases such as “Walk with me” and “Youth Project”, and an “I Love You” motif that is reminiscent of the “I Love NY” merchandise sold at local shops in New York City.
The I Love You theme was seen on off-shoulder, cropped sweaters as well, which also had matching arm warmers that were styled with the outerwear. Most notable pieces in the collection are the NY knitted sweaters that nod to the occasion and Simons’ new home city.
Exactly one year ago, articles and opinion pieces on NYFW: Men’s emerged arguing that the new men’s fashion week was not working. The new fashion week was introduced to align with the men's market schedule in the summer months. Prior to NYFW: Men's, menswear designers would present their latest collections in September with the women's collections but far removed from men's market season. WGSN Senior Menswear Editor Jian DeLeon wrote in an op-ed that NYFW: Men's may be "too little, too late" citing the introduction of see-now-buy-now shows.
"There’s a reason some of America’s best designers – names like Ralph Lauren, Thom Browne, Rick Owens, and Virgil Abloh – don’t show here," wrote DeLeon. "That’s because there’s simply more of a cachet to debut a collection in Paris or Milan than in New York. Despite many of these labels still producing in the city, it just doesn’t behoove a talented designer to show in a city that needs them more than they need it." Some may argue that this is why Rodarte and Proenza Schouler recently announced they will show in Paris this year.
NYFW underwent a rebranding in 2015 with the CFDA and IMG debuting new logos and new venues. The CFDA said it debuted a new logo to create a unified image and "bring across the message that New York Fashion Week is connected to the entire fashion community and industry.”
“The campaign unifies New York Fashion Week as a whole, including runway venues and independent shows that are not part of a major venue, which account for almost two-thirds of the two main women’s seasons,” said Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA.
With designers and brands leaving NYFW to show in other cities, the Raf Simons men’s show brought reassurance to New York. The presence of one of the world’s renowned fashion designers at NYFW:M is a big boost for the CFDA, and some are hoping it may herald the arrival of more international designers and big names to the city.
In an interview with GQ, Raf Simons revealed that he is based in New York City as Creative Director of Calvin Klein. Only time will tell if he will continue to show his namesake label at NYFW and particularly at NYFW: Men’s.
After the show, the phrase “Welcome to New York, Raf” was projected on the wall. New York City has embraced the designer with open arms.
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