For his third appearance at New York Fashion Week, Raf Simons played with the boundaries of excess. His 45-look “Youth in Motion” show, which featured knit dickie scarves, elbow-length gloves and satin pants with jacket linings to match, asked the fashion world to consider its longstanding infatuation with drugs in the era of a national opioid crisis by showing both the romance, and the corresponding pain, intrinsic to any satisfying affair.
Shirts and knee patches read in all-caps “XTC,” “LSD,” and “DRUGS”; they’re adorned, or perhaps afflicted, with oversized images from Uli Edel’s film Christiane F. But for the pieces’ timely, almost so-bleak-as-to-be-dystopian touches, there are calls back to days of milk and honey--a Wildean celebration of fanciful tailoring and opulence. Juxtaposed and scored to overblown, loud club music, the presentation serves as a reminder of how we got to where we are. It’s less a puritanical approach to pleasure, though, than a reckoning with pleasure as escapism--both when it comes to ourselves and our views on people who, depending on their wealth or status or access to a prescription pad, we treat with either forgiveness or disdain.
The subject matter is heartbreakingly urgent, and the show a spectacle worth beholding. Unfortunately--though, to be clear, by no means the most unfortunate part of the situation--one issue with all of Simons’ drama is that it’s not easily integrated into one’s wardrobe. Still, in the spirit of the old platitude, there are ways to do everything (in the collection) in moderation: to invest in colorful, butter-soft leather gloves, albeit wrist-length and for outside wear only; to have your tailor line your trusty wool coat in a contrasting shade of silk; to seek out asymmetry or strange scale nearly hidden in a suiting classic. And, if the weather stays like it’s been in New York, to pick up a pair of Bunny boots--which, as a portion of proceeds from Youth in Motion are headed to organizations supporting people recovering from addiction, would fall solidly into the realm of a positive indulgence.
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