Designer Profile: Raf Simons

Mimi ON Apr 29, 2012 AT 2:59 pm

Raf Simons

Known for his modern proportions, careful construction and innovative shapes, Raf Simons has been paving a path in the world of high fashion since his debut collection in 1995.

Simons’ interest in fashion spawned from an early internship with Walter Van Beirendonck in Paris, where he was exposed to the work of Martin Margiela. The now-44-year-old Belgian designer originally studied industrial and furniture design before starting his eponymous menswear line in 1995. His menswear collection has since expanded to include Jil Sander, Raf Simons, Raf Simons 1995, and Raf by Raf Simons.

Simons’ work is inspired by rebellious youth culture, music, and traditional menswear, the combination of the three seen clearly throughout his collections. Vogue writer Nathan Cooper once descibed Simons’ runway shows as “angst-ridden” and “in which pale-skinned youths march to the ominous beat of Belgian techno music in oversize black suits with ripped-off sleeves and awkwardly pleated baggy pants.”

In 2005, Simons was appointed creative director for Jil Sander, and remained so until this spring, after it was announced that he would replace John Galliano as creative director of Dior. The designer now lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium and is set to show his first collection for the label during the July couture season.

Raf Simons for Jil Sander Spring 2011


1968: Born in Limburg, Belgium to a soldier and house cleaner

1990: Interns with Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck

1991: Graduates with a degree in industrial and furniture design

1995: Shows first Raf Simons menswear collection in Milan

1998: Designs two collections for Italian leather label, Ruffo Research

1999: Works with photographer David Sims on Isolated Heroes, a series of portraits that later develop into a book and exhibit

2000: Designs featured in Vogue’s “Independents’ Day” feature; Shuts down “Raf Simons”

2001: Cooperative deal with Gysemans Clothing Industry to restart menswear line

2003: Co-curates book about teenagers’ influence on style called, “The Fourth Sex: Adolescent Extremes”

-Wins Swiss Textiles Award

2005: Launches Raf by Raf Simons, his new menswear line

Named creative director of Jil Sander for both menswear and womenswear

2006: Makes his womenswear debut at fall Jil Sander show

2008: Collaborates with Linda Farrow on eyewear, Eastpak on bags, and Fred Perry on knitwear for Raf Simons label

2009: Collaboration with Dr. Martens on footwear for Raf Simons

2010: Featured in Vogue’s “Heaven & Earth” portfolio, which profiles “the most exciting designers in fashion of the time”

February 2012: Presents last collection for Jil Sander

April 9, 2012: Replaces John Galliano as creative director of Dior

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