Raf Simons on the Speed of Fashion, What He'll Do Next

Ahead of the Autumn/Winter 2015 issue of System magazine, our friends over at BoF have run an excerpt from the issue's interview between Raf Simons and his longtime fan, Cathy Horyn. Below you can find a couple excerpts from that … 

We have finished our lunch and Raf is heading back to his office on the Avenue Montaigne. "So, in spite of the incredible pressures, your system seems to work?" I ask.

He nods. "Technically speaking, it works. Does it work for me emotionally? No, because I’m not the kind of person who likes to do things so fast. I think if I had more time, I would reject more things, and bring other ideas or concepts in. But that’s also not necessarily better. Sometimes you can work things to death when you take too much time."

"People are used to processing information much more quickly now, thanks to technology," I say. "Also, shows are about communicating to large audiences, often via social media. In any age, isn’t the point to master the changes around you?"

"Maybe," he says, and with a laugh adds, "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."

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A few weeks later I hear from Raf again. It is a Friday evening (his time), and he is with his driver travelling from Antwerp to Paris. Sheepishly, he reveals that he was leaving the next day to spend the weekend at Disneyland Paris with his boyfriend. Hearing my snort, he chuckles and says, "I actually like that kind of thing, believe it or not."

I don’t, but decide to leave it. During his first two years at Dior, Raf rarely took breaks. He would work non-stop for four or five weeks, running up to Antwerp to check on his own business, and then he’d be back in the grind of Paris — and complaining that he didn’t have a normal life. So the news that he had done something about it was positive. He said he had been spending weekends with his boyfriend’s large family in the south of France, exploring villages and just hanging out.

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“But I have no problem with the continuous creative process," he says. ‘Because it’s the reason I’m in this world. It’s always happening. I just did a show yesterday. 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 … 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.”

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Raf pauses and, after a moment, says, "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."

Raf suddenly lets out a grunt. "You should see us here. We left Antwerp two hours ago and were supposed to arrive in Paris at 8.30 tonight. But we’re in a traffic jam, and won’t arrive until 9.50. I’m supposed to meet someone for dinner.

"This is the feeling I have all the time," he continues, clearly exasperated. "There’s never enough time. You get a tension. I know how to pull out from this in my personal life. We go and look at nature for three hours. It’s heaven. We go to a bakery and buy a bag of stuff and lie in the grass. Sublime. But how to do that in the context of your professional life? You buy a house and you start doing pottery or something?"