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We need to talk about Raf Simons’ skeleton cuffs

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Three details we loved from the iconoclastic designer’s AW21 collection

For someone who’s repeatedly denounced the frenetic pace of fashion, Raf Simons isn’t really one for cutting himself a break. Fresh from presenting Prada’s AW21 womenswear collection, in which he and Mrs. P served up a slice of soft-cornered glamour, the iconoclastic designer was back once again to deliver what he’d been working on under his own namesake label. Combining men’s and women’s looks into a bumper co-ed show that marked his second foray into the latter, Simons turned out a collection that remixed and riffed on his now almost 30-year-strong archive. 

Sending cocoon-like quilted opera coats with dramatically dropped shoulders, wide-legged trousers in crayon-box hues, pouffy, duvet-like waistcoats, and a succession of slouchy sweaters that dwarfed their wearers out onto the runway – this season, a sterile blue carpet in the control room of a power plant in Genk – Simons revealed his AW21 offering was simply about “the things I love – things I have always loved, that are always there in every collection, in the processes behind it, and the clothes.” Now, with that in mind, it’s our turn – here are three details we loved from the designer’s latest line-up. 

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THOSE MEMENTO MORI-ESQUE CUFFS

Simons’ new collection felt like the perfect uniform to emerge into the world wearing when lockdown (finally!) lifts: that soft quilting and cocoon-like construction offering protection from anyone getting too close and allowing the wearer the opportunity to shrink back inside the silhouette should it all get a bit too much. The (q frankly brilliant) skeletal silver and enamel hands wrapped around some of the models’ arms also suggested caution as we head towards freedom – our subconscious holding us back from putting ourselves in harm’s way after a year of doing anything to avoid it? Maybe. Beyond these musings, however, they were just extremely cool.  

THE KITSCHY DANGLY EARRINGS

While this collection felt less youth-obsessed than Simons’ other offerings – the RS gang has seemingly grown up a bit for AW21 – there were plenty of flourishes to keep the kids happy. Dangling from many of the models’ ears were kitschy, cute earrings hung with shiny silver hearts, Simons’ initials, and yet more bony skeleton fists and ribcages. As tongue-in-cheek accoutrements to the offering, it was as if the designer had gone on a wild spree in Claire’s Accessories and elevated what he found – and reader, we loved it.

RAF’S NEW LABEL

Where Simons’ initials are usually splashed loud and proud throughout his collections, this season saw a new logo make itself known across a series of pieces. Not dissimilar to the kind of tags you’d find stitched into in age-old charity shop finds or late-night eBay-procured vintage bits, the R. Simons labels stitched to sleeves, gloves, and seams spoke of a lengthy heritage – which, when you consider the designer’s been in the game for a pretty unbelievable three decades now, is pretty on the nose.

Check out the collection in the gallery above and revisit the AW21 Prada show in the one below.