Raf Simons Embraces Womenswear for Spring/Summer 2021

Raf Simons Embraces Womenswear for Spring/Summer 2021

Raf Simons Embraces Womenswear for Spring/Summer 2021

Alexa, play "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry.

Alexa, play "Teenage Dream" by Katy Perry.

Text: Juliana Bakumenko

Though titled "Teenage Dreams," it's unlikely that Katy Perry's lighthearted, poppy hit of a similar name inspired Raf Simons Spring/Summer 2021 collection. In actuality, the Belgian designer's first mens and womenswear collection under his own label (see his first collection as co-creative director at Prada) has a dark and haunting feel, inspired by a mix of films and cultural moments from the 1970s and '80s.

These themes are palpable through the cuts and colors of the collection, with the whimsical yet gloomy forest set further adding to it. Abstract prints and patterns cover the runway, with hallucinogenic swirls in shades of purple and green, reminiscent of 1960s and '70s imagery. Oversized blazers and vests contribute to the 1980s references, though the heavily layered looks feel distinctly modern. Some looks boast pins and stickers, with phrases such as "muted chaos" and "echoes of love" which can be attributed to the attitudes of youth culture through the decades. "Muted chaos" seems to be an accurate description of punk and counterculture subgroups in the 1990s, "echoes of love" reflecting the openness and down-to-earth feel of the 1970s. Outdated portraits also cover certain garments, leaving the viewer curious to their history, wondering who exactly those young people were, and who they are now.

Simons' womenswear truly doesn't differ much from the elements commonly used in his menswear, something long time Raf stans who prefer to wear womenswear will be happy to note. In the first women's collection for his namesake brand, we can find the same excess fabric in their sleeves and overcoats as in menswear, with the addition of skirts and cinched-in waistlines, though those aren't too different from some of Raf's menswear pieces in previous collections.

Listing movies from the horror/sci-fi favorite Alien to 1980s cult comedy The Breakfast Club to Australian new wave mystery Picnic at Hanging Rock as sources of inspiration, it's no surprise how broad the elements of the collection itself are.

These drama, sci-fi, and horror movie references are even more apparent through the collection's own film, a twenty minute clip showing off the collection though slow moving (and crawling) models. Check out the collection's own fashion film here.

Unsettling yet beautiful, the fashion film and the collection hold an aura of mystery as we try to figure out exactly what Simons is trying to express with it. It could both be a new take on escapism, a way of distracting us from current realities, as well as a commentary on our world right now and its own disturbances. It's left to us to wonder exactly why Raf chose to focus on the youth past rather than gather inspiration from the active younger generations now, the ones advocating for everyone's right to vote, who are focused on saving the environment and other pressing social issues. However, the collection does emphasize the importance of youth culture in any decade, leaving us hopeful and excited for the generations to come.

Click through the slideshow below to see some our favorite womenswear looks from Raf Simons Ready-to-Wear SS21.

Credits: Visuals courtesy of Raf Simons

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