Raf Simons has always demonstrated a genuine interest in art. And often mixed it with his fashion. He begun his career as a furniture designer, produced an entire collection with Sterling Ruby for the Dior autumn/winter 2014 collection, he serves as an art adviser to the Antwerp’s Cigrang estate, collects Mike Kelley, Pablo Picasso and has a passion for ceramics by artists including Georges Jouve, Roger Capron and Pol Chambost.
It was therefore natural for the Belgian designer to collaborate with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. “They called me.” Simons insists.
The resulting Spring 2017 collection was very succesful. Presented at the Pitti Oumo fashion week in Florence, it featured oversize garments with prints of the controversial photographer’s famous works, alongside rarer images worn by models with Mapplethorpe-like hair and often styled in S&M leather caps. But beware of the lazy comparison between fashion shows and exhibitions. “Fashion, you cannot compare it to curating an art exhibition in a gallery. It’s such a different thing. With fashion, you have the whole process of building up a collection.” Simons said about the collaboration.
The show was brilliant but I couldn’t stop asking myself: would Patti Smith approve?