Raf Simons: ‘I Don’t Want to Do Collections Where I’m Not Thinking’

Raf Simons.
Raf Simons. Photo: Billy Farrell/BFA.com

Raf Simons is luxuriating in a field of delphiniums — the same flowers that formed the backdrop of his final show for Dior — inside the new issue of System magazine, accompanying an interview that took place prior to his departure. In a preview of the story on Business of Fashion today, Simons opens up to Cathy Horyn about the scary speed of the fashion system, why he’s not entirely happy that the industry has gotten less elitist, and where he goes to unwind (it may or may not involve Mickey Mouse ears). Some of their exchange appeared on the Cut at the time of Simons’s depature, but this expanded version offers additional insight into the designer’s thought process and psyche. Here, six things we learned about Simons from the piece.

Things sped up even over his three years at Dior:

“You know, we did this collection in three weeks. [The Esprit Dior collection in] Tokyo was also done in three weeks. Actually everything is done in three weeks, maximum five. And when I think back to the first couture show for Dior, in July 2012, I was concerned because we only had eight weeks.”

He was so busy he texted himself ideas:

“Just now, while waiting in the car, I sent four or five ideas to myself by text message, so I don’t forget them. They are always coming.”

He had a round-the-clock schedule:

“The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time. And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking. In this system, Pieter [Mulier, Simons’s right hand] and I can’t sit together and brainstorm — no time. I have a schedule every day that begins at 10 in the morning and runs through the day, and every, every minute is filled. From 10:10am to 10:30am, it’s shoes, let’s say. From 10:30 to 11:15, it’s jewelry. Everything is timed — the whole week. If there’s a delay in a meeting, the whole day is fucked up … What are you going to do? Walk out of the office at 8 o’clock at night? No, of course not. So you stay there until midnight. That’s the life.”

He has mixed feelings about the democratization of fashion:

“Fashion became pop. I can’t make up my mind if that’s a good or a bad thing. The only thing I know is that it used to be elitist. And I don’t know if one should be ashamed or not to admit that maybe it was nicer when it was more elitist, not for everybody. Now high fashion is for everybody.”

He’s nostalgic for his analog youth:

“Everything is so easily accessible, and because of that you don’t make a lot of effort anymore. When we were young, you had to make up your mind to investigate something — because it took time. You really had to search and dig deep. Now if something interests you, one second later, you can have it. And also one second later you also drop it.”

He’s not too cool to hang out at Disneyland Paris:

“I actually like that kind of thing, believe it or not.”

Raf Simons on Elitist Fashion and Disneyland