Raf Simons stunned the industry on November 21 when he announced on his namesake label’s official Instagram account that the spring 2023 collection would be its final season. The show, staged during London’s Frieze Art Fair, turned into a rave after the last model took their turn on the catwalk.
Simons launched his brand in 1995 after working as a furniture designer and interning at fellow Belgian Walter Van Beirendonck’s design studio. He quickly achieved cult status for youth-oriented collections that showcased his innate ability to distill inspiration from the underground art and music worlds into eminently recognizable minimalist silhouettes.
His spring collection featured works by the late artist Philippe Vandenberg, and though we didn’t know it at the time, they proved prophetic. “They’re cruel words, like ‘Kill them all and dance.’ But he didn’t mean killing people,” the designer told Sarah Mower at the time. “He meant killing things that you’re doing creatively in order to move on and explore further.”
In his Instagram post, Simons wrote, “I lack the words to share how proud I am of all that we have achieved. I am grateful for the incredible support from my team, from my collaborators, from the press and buyers, from my friends and family, and from our devoted fans and loyal followers. Thank you all, for believing in our vision and for believing in me.”
Reached for comment, Simons’s PR said the note on Instagram would be the only official communication about this move. At the top of his post, he included the year 1995, when his label debuted, and the names of his parents, Alda and Jacques. More cryptic are the phrases memory wear, likely a reference to his spring 2015 collection — whose clothes featured collaged items from his childhood (a kitten, a roller coaster, an astronaut) as well as images of his parents when they were dating — and Station to Station, a 1976 David Bowie album and song that featured prominently in the movie Christiane F, a favorite of the designer’s (in 2018, he launched a capsule collection inspired by the movie). Bowie has long been a touchstone for Simons: There were tees screen printed with images of Aladdin Sane in his first collection, and his debut at Calvin Klein opened with Bowie’s track “This Is Not America.”