"In the backyard of the [Royal Academy of Fine Arts] school was this little building, on the verge of collapsing. You would have to very carefully go over the stairs, because if you took one mis-step, you could literally push your feet through them. It was almost dangerous. So I think that the whole thing melted well together. It was the switch from the 80s to 90s, the reaction on excess with minimalism and deconstruction, the first appearance of grunge. So that feeling of romanticism, together with the history, the building and the run down corridors with the statues, it really did make a big impact on how you formed your visual language. I really think there was something quite dark and magical about it, matching perfectly the zeitgeist of the period."

— Willy Vanderperre
Raf Simons spring / summer 1997
By putting his suits on sapling-thin Belgian boys who were not agency models, Simons introduced the idea that a young man’s physical size was not at variance with his sense of isolation, a feeling that would have been ordinary to anyone who had grown up in Antwerp — or Rotterdam or Manchester — in isolated apartment towers built since the war, and who had spent a lot of time listening to bands like Joy Division and Kraftwerk, whose 22-minute song, ”Autobahn,” managed to convey the monotony of riding on the German superhighway. If Gucci’s caftans and Jean Paul Gaultier’s cowboy chaps didn’t represent the same emotional trip to this generation, Simons’s minimalist suits did. They became the dominant silhouette of the late 90’s. I once asked him what made him think of that shape. As usual, he had a straightforward explanation. ”It was just because we were so small,” he said.

Raf Simons spring / summer 1997

By putting his suits on sapling-thin Belgian boys who were not agency models, Simons introduced the idea that a young man’s physical size was not at variance with his sense of isolation, a feeling that would have been ordinary to anyone who had grown up in Antwerp — or Rotterdam or Manchester — in isolated apartment towers built since the war, and who had spent a lot of time listening to bands like Joy Division and Kraftwerk, whose 22-minute song, ”Autobahn,” managed to convey the monotony of riding on the German superhighway. If Gucci’s caftans and Jean Paul Gaultier’s cowboy chaps didn’t represent the same emotional trip to this generation, Simons’s minimalist suits did. They became the dominant silhouette of the late 90’s. I once asked him what made him think of that shape. As usual, he had a straightforward explanation. ”It was just because we were so small,” he said.


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