Collaboration Anticipation: Raf Simons + Sterling Ruby

“…what interests me now is to say that this is not just a collaborative thing, not just asking someone in my field to do the knitwear or the bags. This is all the way, all the way. There is not one shirt, one shoe, one sock that is not from our mutual thinking process.”

-Raf Simons, as told to Style.com

Dior’s creative director, Raf Simons, has just announced his upcoming collaboration with artist Sterling Ruby on his new menswear collection, which will be shown in Paris on January 15th. Big deal, right? The two have worked together previously on the interior of the Raf Simons store in Tokyo, and a number of motifs from Simons’ first couture show for Dior were drawn from Ruby’s paintings. And artist-designer collaborations are so commonplace these days that it takes something completely out-of-the-box to turn heads.

Well, leave it to Raf Simons to do just that. “For one season, the brand ‘Raf Simons’ will not exist,” the designer has confirmed, meaning that every single article of clothing and accessory that will be sent down the runway is entirely the product of joint decision-making. In fact, the one-off collection will be known as the Raf Simons/Sterling Ruby collection. Simons challenged himself to find solutions to every concept Ruby ideated, so as to not restrict the artist’s creativity. And Ruby, who recently had begun incorporating textiles into his work, proved a capable accomplice based on a deep understanding of process and construction with those materials.

Congratulations, Raf, on what will likely be the most anticipated collection of the New Year. I, for one, cannot wait.

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The interior of Simon’s Tokyo store, the result of a collaboration with Sterling Ruby

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A dress from Simons’ first Dior Couture collection, inspired by Ruby’s paintings

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Sterling Ruby, SP171, 2011, Spray paint on canvas, 160 x 235 x 2 in.

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The Genius That Is Raf Simons’ Dior

There is no other word to describe Raf Simons’ debut couture collection for the house of Dior other than genius.  The pressure was on for the former creative director of Jil Sander, and he certainly did not dissapoint.  The collection was thoughtful and unified, punctuated by reoccuring themes such as the peplum, full skirts, strapless tops, and pointy stillettos.  Simons favored black and navy ensembles, opting for a black tuxedo whose jacket was shaped after Dior’s iconic Bar jacket – one of the most distinctive silhouettes in fashion – for his first look.  This number set the stage for the following architectural, structure-focused looks. Yet he did not shy away from color completely, experimenting with vibrant reds, pastel pinks, and simple patterns for a few dresses, as well as electric yellow long for one sleeve gown.

Engulfing the throng of socialite, celebrities and high profile designers (Marc Jacobs, Pierre Cardin, Alber Elbaz, and Donatella Versace were just a few of those on hand to support Simons’ debut) were endless walls of flowers, which lined a grand Parisian mansion ceiling to floor in a nod to one of Christian Dior’s obsessions.  Five rooms in total were utilized for the show’s large crowd, each designated its own specific color based on the flowers on the wall, including blue delphiniums, white orchids, red and orange roses, and pink roses and peonies.

If this is what Simons can create in just two months at the helm of Dior’s iconic fashion house, it is fair to say that this talented designer has a long, successful road ahead of him.

Structured Blacks (opening look on the left)

Peplums

Pops of Color

Full Skirts

Strapless