In this case, two heads were better than one. Sharing his label for fall with California artist Sterling Ruby, Raf Simons sent out one of his strongest men’s collections in years.
The surprise, given Ruby’s penchant for gritty and dense accumulations, was how wearable everything was.
Taking a pause from suits — and androgyny — Simons focused on streetwise sportswear, mainly statement outerwear emblazoned with slogans, patches and offbeat imagery. Excepting the trenches, the coats were mostly oversize, though not to the cartoonlike proportions of the swollen shoes.
The duo treated outerwear like canvases, tacking on bands of vivid color, safety tape spelling out “FATHERS,” or cutout images of planets, photo-booth strips or bald heads. Collages on black coats often had the aspect of night skies streaked with color and assorted UFOs (unidentified fashion oddities).
Then came printed coats — lightweight parkas and anoraks mainly — bearing micro camouflage motifs, paint splotches or Ruby’s signature bleach stains, which he had employed to decorate a Simons boutique in Tokyo, unfortunately long since closed.
Snug, space-dye sweaters and tight black pants rounded out the collection. Some models toted black leather portfolios decorated with lady hands, or long canvas sacks that resembled the tonsil-shaped appendages strung over the catwalk.
The collection was urgent, bold and undeniably cool. At the end of the show, Simons and Sterling shared a man hug.