Thursday 17th January

| BY Richard Gray

Raf Simons: Menswear AW19

Atmosphere, the opening track of last night Raf Simons show, his first since leaving as creative director of Calvin Klein, holds a special place amongst Joy Division fans. It’s the track played at the funeral of band’s manager Tony Wilson; and if Hooky’s bass doesn’t get you, the lyrics will:

“Abandoned too soon
Set down with due care
Don’t walk away in silence
Don’t walk away”. Was this a reflective Raf speaking through lead singer Curtis? The whole line-out was reflective. The embroidery on the knee of white jeans screamed “Burning down the house” – what did that mean? “The collection was designed before Christmas,” Simons told backstage.

The show was full of coats – dozens. Each one a solid slab of fabric – all kinds – with an extended shoulder. Each of the 50 looks had a hat: something between riding cap and bowler. If I say Anton Corbijn music video; you’re with me. Some of the coats had d-rings attached with swinging silver broken love hearts about an inch in size. These were dotted decorously around various coats. Some were full hearts, others just the ring; some hearts were missing. The romantic symbolism continued with painted metal flowers, some threaded through knitwear, which looked like the water-colour illustrations in old books listing hidden messages within gifted bouquets, those the Victorians obsessed over. A light blue rose, a red rose; was that a white daisy?

The show had two parts. In the interlude, the lights changed colour: red and blue and back. Then suite 2 of the line-out with live music from Simons’ favourite new Belgian band, and more coats in brighter colours and more symbols: two cherries and now butterflies. And another blue rose. There were patches of film stills on tops and coats from the work of the film director David Lynch. This makes sense: the actress Laura Dern, Lynch’s go-to lead in Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks, was sat in the audience. Was that Dern’s face screaming on the telephone on tops in the show? Here comes the nerdy bit: Lynch has a connection with the blue rose. Twin Peak fans may recognise the blue rose as the broach worn by red-wigged dancer character Lil. My god, he does his research.

Photography by Jason Lloyd-Evans.