TOLD BY TOSHIKO TAGUCHI RECALL: RAF SIMONS 1
“In the 1980s, Japan was in an era of frenzy. Against the backdrop of the bubble economy, people lined up all night for sales happening at fashion stores, and designers fashion captivated the youth.“ Taguchi experienced the same kind of passion towards fashion that was among Japanese youth when she covered Seoul Fashion Week in the late 1990s, during the country’s transitional period of economic growth. “Young fans looked like groupies as they crowded around the entrance of shows in order to get a glimpse of the designers. The scene looked exactly like the young who were so passionate about fashion in Japan about 15 years ago”, she reflects. Looking back, she vividly remembers the rise of men's designer brands in Tokyo during the early 80's and late 90's, with both pros and cons during her long history of covering the Tokyo Collections.
“In the early 90's, at an exhibition in Tokyo, there was a brand that presented a double-breasted suit made of a newly developed high-quality imitation silk material called ‘Tencel’ with a hood attached. In an era where clothes were sold blindly, I assume they wanted something new and different that consumers would jump at. As the editor of ‘MR’, a magazine which carefully considers the quality of clothes and where each designers' creations are the roots and foundation of the magazine, I was appalled and felt disappointed when I saw the hood which ruined the shoulder form of the tailored jacket.“
Taguchi says she struggled with how to capture in "MR" the trend of "street and grunge", which emerged in 1990s mainstream as a type of fashion that could be established even in the absence of the “designer's eye. ”Fortunately, ‘MR' had stylists with sharp aesthetic sense who did not easily give in to public opinion. As a men's mode magazine, their judgment and perspective were indispensable in terms of how to capture and express ‘street' fashion.”
"At the time, I was having trouble understanding that trend, but there was one person who broke down the stereotypes of street and grunge for me. Raf Simons was that person. He was the one who shifted the hood, which had been treated as a symbol of street and sport, to the mode side. I think that it is a great achievement, comparable to launching something completely new.”
From his first presentation during the 1995 Milan Fall-Winter to his participation in Paris Men’s Fashion Week from 1997 and onwards, MR paid early attention to Raf Simons and published looks from each season’s collection mainly based on interviews by the Paris Bureau of Bunka Publications. MR magazine introduced Raf Simons numerous times through frequent interviews and an article on his atelier for a special issue on Antwerp (MR, June 1997).
"The first time I went to see Raf's show was at the Paris Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2002. I had seen his collections from the 90's through photos, but I had never seen them in person. However, I feel fortunate that the collection with hoods, masks and scarves wrapped around the models' faces was my first opportunity to see and experience Raf's show first hand. If I had first been there to see his early, somewhat classic pieces with a bit of an British schoolboy look, I would have been much slower to recognize Raf's unique combination of talent and mind. Thanks to his fundamental eye for tailoring and elegance, evidenced in his collections from the 90s, he was able to create the beautiful balance that was essential to elevate street into the realm of mode. The shows I saw had a definite impact on me, giving me a glimpse of Raf's consistent deep thought.”
Ms. Taguchi continued, reflecting on the solid presence of designers who are renewing "conservative" into something with a different value system in an age where sport, outdoors, and street is on the rise. "I believe that designers who have the will and talent to ‘transform’ men's mode have the power to see the times and society from a very distant perspective. I am convinced that Raf is an exceptional designer who is able to sense the transition of the next era, and at the same time has the ability to predict the next generation, not only in terms of clothing, but in terms of society as a whole.”
"From time to time, I witness the emergence of a rare designer who, as Raf did, transforms the essential elements of clothing quality such as material and form through his creations. As an editor, I am truly moved by the joy of discovery that comes from decades of continuous observation. For example, I used to have a negative impression of most of the clothes made of denim, thinking that they were designed in a meaningless way. No matter what kind of creation anyone made, they could never match the perfection of jeans and denim jackets. No one could ever surpass them. The Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons' "Denim Soiree" presented at the 2002 Spring/Summer Paris Collection was the first to break through this illusion. Once again, I was able to see Junya’s underlying strength. The chance of experiencing a new era through new creations is sealed in my mind and will never be forgotten even as the years pass. I got to know Raf Simons as a person who transformed grunge into the royal road of mode, which led me to continue paying attention to him. This was before he took over Jil Sander.”
Born in 1949. Chief editor of MR High Fashion and High Fashion, now a freelance editor.
Text_ TATSUYA YAMAGUCHI