A Chic Duo

Two of our fashion idols, Raf Simons and GQ Magazine, recently sat down for an “unusually raw and candid interview”, and we are super excited to share it with you. Best of all, this interview occurred days before Simons’ New York Fashion Week debut, and shortly after he relocated to New York.

As the former creative director of Christian Dior and the current designer and chief creative director of Calvin Klein, Simons certainly has some interesting insights to offer.

You can find the full interview here, and as always, highlighted excerpts from our constant source of inspiration, The Fashion Law.

GQ: Do you think that fashion and design can be a form of rebellion or resistance? With a situation like Donald Trump’s presidency, can it be a form of protest to design or to just get dressed in the morning?

RS: Yes, I think it can be a form of resistance. But no more than any other person taking a position or speaking up. I don’t think that because it’s fashion it’s more of a resistance.

It’s also difficult to talk about because one thing is that when you come as a European to America, it’s already quite something. My whole existence had a very specific foundation in Europe. Belgium, Paris, Milan. My company was established there and is based there still. But I had to rethink the whole thing because the one thing that I said is that, if I step into a new creative director position, I’m not traveling anymore. I came to an age where I found that to be the very annoying part of the job. Because I’m really still challenged by doing these two different things. I always like to do that. In the early days, before I became creative director of Jil Sander, I was also always doing two things. The brand and art curating. Or the brand and teaching at university. And then it became two brands. Jil-Raf. Dior-Raf. Now Calvin-Raf. And it’s very interesting for me, those two roles. I think it makes me very alert. Instead of becoming lazy in your own settled thinking process and environment. But I just can’t cope with the travel anymore so everything was restructured. My people come here. We have an office here for my company.

So all of that together is a lot. Coming here. Living here. Your partner. Your dog. It’s a new city. New experiences. Starting a new job. And then suddenly—woosh!—something happens which is like the last possible thing you could even imagine.

GQ: Donald Trump.

RS: Yeah. That’s how we experienced it. Literally, you start thinking, Oh my god. What did we decide here a half-year ago? And then you can go and sit there and [cry] or you can just say, I’m going to do my thing. I have things that I have to do. And I have not only a responsibility, but a challenge.

I’m constantly thinking about what could I do on a bigger scale. I’m thinking a lot about it. And I’m watching a lot of the people who do speak up. Like the march and all these women. But I also question a lot. Like, What is this all going to become? I open the newspaper and I see that he’s ordering a wall. I’m like… It’s almost like the middle ages or something. I cannot believe it. You know, I’ve been doing this thing for 21 years. People do their thing. I do my job. Then you watch a television series like Game of Thrones and you think, Oh my god, it was like that back in the days. Then you see all the evolution. You know, we went through the sexual revolution—I thought.

GQ: The civil rights movement. 

RS: It’s almost incredible that something like that has been manifesting in a country like America.

GQ: Do you feel like at some point in your career you turned a corner and went from being a hot contemporary designer to being a legend who is adding to the legacy of his career?

RS: It feels always the same. Nothing feels bigger than many, many years ago. Nothing feels more important than many, many years ago. What feels new to me is how people look at the brand. There is this hunt for pieces. That is a very new thing for me. Honestly speaking, the first moment it happened I was like, Oh, am I getting old? They started to collect it. I started to see pieces going to auctions. It’s like how I perceived old brands. Like, ah this brand from a very long time ago. It’s weird to experience it when I feel in full bloom. But then it’s nice, also. I would be like that for a Helmut [Lang] piece or Martin [Margiela] piece, but they’re both out. The brands exist but they’re both out. I’m completely in it still, and I’m starting something new again now.

 

What do you think of Simons’ insights?

Note: for all you men reading, make sure to subscribe to GQ magazine for the latest on men’s fashion and news in the industry.

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