Raf Simons' Manifesto on Being an Outsider

Dazed sat down with one of our favorite subjects, menswear designer Raf Simons, who is also the creative director of Dior. On the heels of his single-season collaboration with his pal, artist Sterling Ruby, Simons provided Dazed with a manifesto on whether he can remain an outsider in his rarefied position as the poster boy for rebel fashion. Catch an excerpt below ...

I don’t overthink the idea that I might be an outsider. I guess it’s just how people see me sometimes. When I was younger, I took more of an attacking attitude. I always felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I guess a lot of teenagers feel like that.

In a way, this season was about applying an outsider theory to fashion. It was emotional from the very moment I thought about doing it, because I didn’t really know if Sterling would say yes. I mean, if he asked me to do a show with him at Hauser & Wirth – and don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that’s something he would ever do – I’m not sure that I would dare to step into another field the way he has with this.

I like to take control with things and I’m very specific in how I work. In my opinion, this was something that hasn’t really been done before. It wasn’t just my brand, it was our brand, and literally everything would be decided by us. For both of us, it was important to take the chance to get out of our own systems.

I reached out to Sterling because he is so strong and has such specific ideas about things. We’ve known each other for nine years and have a fantastic dialogue. I had no fear that it wouldn’t work out, but at the same time there was a step that needed to be made. I said: ‘Listen, the most important thing is that we’re completely convinced by anything we make together, because otherwise as a project it doesn’t make sense to me.’ It was scary, but at the same time it was very freeing.

Then we had to think about what we wanted to do, what we felt was relevant to say right now. In a way, it felt like it was a first collection again, something far away from the aesthetic, the thinking process and the attitude of the fashion system. I loved the fact that it felt like the first time, because it was, and I wanted us to take on that attitude. I think it was about coming back to a certain form of language that relates to the early practice and DNA of the brand.