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Raf Simons / Sterling Ruby F/W 14 - paris

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Raf Simons Opens His Atelier—and Shares His Label—to Artist Sterling Ruby for the Most Complete Designer/Artist Collaboration Yet
December 16, 2013 6:00am
by Tim Blanks

raf_simons_sterling_ruby_label.jpg

On January 15, Raf Simons will show his new men’s collection in Paris. Except it won’t be his name on the label. Or at least, not his alone. “For one season, the brand ‘Raf Simons’ will not exist,†the designer boldly declares. Instead, he’ll be sharing the billing with Sterling Ruby (below), “one of the most interesting artists to emerge in this century,†according to The New York Times. Same could be said for Simons, of course, but, on the surface at least, that looks like the only thing they’d have in common. Whether painted, sculpted, dripped, slopped, or bronzed, Ruby’s work is extravagantly physical, monumentally messy—or messily monumental. Simons’ isn’t. Extravagantly emotional, maybe, but otherwise a masterwork of purity and precision. But we know that surfaces deceive. Designer and artist are, in fact, a perfectly compatible duo. “We have similar sensibilities that surface when we speak about music and art,†Ruby confirms. “And even before our collaborations, we were talking a lot about textiles.â€

Those collaborations have included the interior of the Raf Simons store in Tokyo and a handful of outfits from Simons’ first couture show for Dior, which referenced Ruby’s paintings. But this time it’s radically different. “Fashion has a long interest in collaborative situations,†explains Simons, “but 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.â€

The challenges such an endeavor presents seem obvious. Geography, for one, when the creative process so physically involves one person based in Antwerp and another in L.A. Simons insists that even if Ruby wasn’t at every fitting, every single decision was made jointly.

Then, on some level, there is surely the issue of dimensionality, meaning the scale of Ruby’s own work versus menswear’s dimensions (there are rumors of a coat composed of seventy-five different types of fabric, which sounds pretty, er, massive). But that was a challenge Simons saw as his own: for the designer to find solutions to technical issues so the artist’s creativity wouldn’t be restricted. “It was less of a challenge than you might think,†Ruby offers. “I have been thinking about my studio as a kind of Bauhaus. In the last couple of years, I have been producing my own work clothes to wear at the studio, work shirts, pants, and jumpsuits. They are made from bleached denim and canvas, materials that I also use to make some of my artworks. In my work I have been thinking about the moment the utilitarian object becomes an aesthetic object.â€

The last Raf Simons collection for men offered a shiny Warholian pop/art vision of the evolution of product in a synthetic world. This one promises the polar opposite: do-it-yourself handcraft dewed with the sweat of an honest workingman’s brow. That hypermasculine image is very much in keeping with the spontaneity and physicality of Ruby’s work. “But what shouldn’t be forgotten about the rawness of Sterling’s work is that it’s about someone who takes complete control as a person and an artist,†Simons points out. It’s a paradox he explored in his own early work, when his designs twisted the raw DIY ethos of the punk, new wave, and electronic scenes he loved into intensely disciplined dissertations on youth culture. Those days—before everything got so much more “industrialized,†as he puts it, for him—have been on his mind a lot lately. “When you’re thinking about a new collection,†he says, “your own history is very much in your thoughts.â€

Even before the collection is subjected to the jury of public opinion, the experience has had a transformative impact on its protagonists. “Very liberating,†says Simons. “I know this independence is what people like most about my brand.†For Ruby, it’s been an education in the unholy speed of the fashion industry. “It seems like an endless cycle for designers, and they make decisions so fast,†he says. “I am thinking about how I could incorporate that kind of immediacy into my own work.â€

Simons is keen to underscore once more the essence of the project. It is not a simple collaboration, a case of a designer bringing in an artist to create a T-shirt or a bag. But nor do the creators want what they’ve done to be perceived as art. January 15′s show space has been carefully selected so that it couldn’t possibly be construed as an “art†environment. (This from a designer who showed last season at Larry Gagosian’s newest Paris gallery.) “We are making a men’s fashion collection, not an artwork,†Simons insists.

But logic is equally insistent. With the Simons/Ruby collection being one of the most attractive and fully conceived offspring of fashion and art’s courtship, there will undoubtedly be people who prefer to hang the clothes on their walls. Simons is typically unfazed. “As much as we feel free to do this, anyone who buys it should feel free to do whatever they want with it.â€

raf_simons_sterling_ruby.jpg

 

(source)

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I wasn't the biggest fan of their previous collaboration, mostly because I didn't like the denim aspect of it. In addition the clothes felt like a dilution of his earlier marble prints for Jil. Still see some RSxRS pieces for cheap on ebay. I'm excited none the less. This part especially made my mind race with the possibilities:

 

“But what shouldn’t be forgotten about the rawness of Sterling’s work is that it’s about someone who takes complete control as a person and an artist,†Simons points out. It’s a paradox he explored in his own early work, when his designs twisted the raw DIY ethos of the punk, new wave, and electronic scenes he loved into intensely disciplined dissertations on youth culture. Those days—before everything got so much more “industrialized,†as he puts it, for him—have been on his mind a lot lately. “When you’re thinking about a new collection,†he says, “your own history is very much in your thoughts.â€

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In the previous collaborations, I understood that Sterling Ruby just treated the denim and Raf did the design, as it seems to be something much more complex and fusional this time, I am expecting a really different result.

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In the previous collaborations, I understood that Sterling Ruby just treated the denim and Raf did the design, as it seems to be something much more complex and fusional this time, I am expecting a really different result.

 

Too bad that didn't really happen.

 

2dvof2e.jpg

 

I'm disappointed in this, but I probably had too high hopes. I will have to review it again a little later. I feel the patched on fabrics were lazy and uninspired. As of now this is probably my favorite look:

 

2aaizv6.jpg

Edited by aoi

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I really like the patches part, but I come to the collection as Sterling Ruby "fan" more than a raf one, so I might have a distorted view.

 

Plus if the level of details match Ruby's artwork, I expect to be amazed by the pieces up close

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looked some images on tumblr. FANTASTIC 

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Hazmat_lg.gif

 

wtf is with the giant 'overboot' boots?

i assume it's part of the theme but .. they don't look that great

Edited by mr fluffernutter

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^^^ Those are Raf Simons x Timberland or something like that I believe... Rafberlends :D

 

The collection is much better than what Raf Simons has been doing for the last several seasons,imo.

And this cropped bomber / parka is now in my wish list :)

00070h_426x639.jpg

Edited by fire_of_desire

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Frankly, I expected more from this "collaboration". I found it to be underwhelming. Not only did he offer nothing new, but with what he did offer, he's done it much better in the past. The patchworks and paint splatters were all too expected. Not to mention he's been doing all this for his collections at Dior.

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The weirdest part about it is how commercial all of this seems. It all seems very well made, but none of it is particularly challenging. Embellished basics. Perhaps that's what happens when you give the keys to someone who doesn't know anything about how to cut clothes.

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Like Raf Simons? Give the man a pile of fabric and all he could give you is... a pile of fabric. He's not a technical designer, he relies on his team to deliver clothing. There's nothing wrong with that, and honestly I don't know what you're not seeing because everything I expect from the Raf team is here.

Edited by madame twerq

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I like it!

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Raf_Simons_FW14details_32.jpg
 
 

 

Is that an Adidas logo I see?

Also, did anyone get a Henrik Vibskov / Bernhard Willhelm / Walter Van Beirendonck vibe from some of the pieces? I liked it though.

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I think this collection is pretty fucking awesome. Of course the splattered pieces are pretty derivative, but the overcoats are amazing, and I think the shoes will set a new precedent for high end footwear in the new year. I could easily see some of these coats becoming grail status ala earlier 2000s raf like closer and teenage riot. I very much appreciate how raf pushes boundaries, and while there are some things that are hit and miss I think he is one of the few designers actually taking menswear to the next level.

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