The Belgian Raf Simons reimagined ideas from the Fifties into hyper-chic fashions for today. Simons muses on the allure of the midcentury period and its pitch-perfect play with form and function.
WWD: Which period in history defined modernism the best, and why? Simons: The industrialization and the Fifties’ economic boom largely affected the aesthetic of the times and pushed design to explore directions unknown until that moment. After the war, new needs were to be fulfilled, and there was extraordinary optimism for the future. The positivity was somehow the driving force for the pioneers of modernist design. During these years, designers created things that were completely new, and what I very much like about modernism is that it does not relate to history or the past.
Midcentury modern furniture remains extremely popular. Why? Midcentury furniture is the epitome of modernity: the use of color, the combination of elements, the craftsmanship, yet the appeal of industrialization. Midcentury design shows no aesthetic engagement with the past, only the precise intention to define form and function, which makes this movement relevant for any period of time.
What about fashion? Was there a fashion era or designer that defined modernism best, or is that a moving target? The language of Fifties couture was particularly interesting. There was a new approach to the use of shape, volume and color, and a redefinition of fashion by thinking forward. In architecture, there was a modernist movement. Le Corbusier, for example. In fashion, Balenciaga. In art, Picasso. It was not only the creative people but also the idea of optimism, of people thinking about the future—the fact they were attracted by being inspired by what is yet to come, and not knowing what it is going to be.
Fashion has a tendency to refer to past decades and epochs, but you always push modernity. How come? The newness of fashion is what makes it interesting. Likewise, midcentury design showed there’s no actual need to tribute the past. It’s rather a matter of moving things ahead. I always think forward, to the next collection, to what is new.
Which object or cultural artifact best exemplifies modernism, and why? Midcentury ceramics embody the essence of modernism—the oeuvres of Pol Chambost, Picasso Madoura, George Jouve, Jacques and Dani Ruelland from these times exemplify the dedication to form and color.
What makes a garment modern? I think it’s a combination of elements. Modernity is a very delicate equation of form and function. Fabric, color and material are always deeply connected, so I believe it’s their combination that sets the modern tone of the garment.
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty