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NYFW: Raf Simons comments on society's drug use

It was going to be controversial by any interpretation, even by fashion's standards. Raf Simons this week showed his namesake menswear collection during New York Fashion Week, with a collection titled ‘Youth In Motion’, taking inspiration from the drug-addicted youth in Berlin in the late seventies. The film Christiane F. was a starting point, with the show notes reading: "Simons, like many Europeans of his generation, was exposed to the harrowing world of Christiane F. in high school, where the film and the book were discussed as a part of the currriculum of drug abuse and addiction.

While many laud the film as a realistic account of drug addition, the David Bowie soundtracked story has become an iconic fixture about disaffected youth, depicting the grim realities of anti-authoritatian, decayed urban silhouettes and the sinister escapes the disenfranchised are drawn towards. Christiane F. was herself a heroin junky; young, wafer-thin with dyed red hair, her 'look' has been a recurring influence in fashion shoots since the film's debut in 1981.

On a hoisted stage, models wore sleeveless hoodies printed with the slogan Drugs, latex gloves under rolled up wooly outerwear, and half-worn intarsia sweaters, with sleeves dangling on models' chests. The catwalk permeated through a mise-en-scene of a feast at its peak: half-poured glasses, empty bottles of champagne artfully arranged, and mounds of fruits - grapes, lemons - and stacked loaves of bread. Whether it echoes the opulent setting of mid-century couture salons or the peak hour of a party, where guests are significantly euphoric and in higher spirits.

NYFW: Raf Simons comments on society's drug use

The logo'ed drugs hoodies were an ode to Cookie Mueller and Glenn O’Brien’s tragicomic play from the 1980s and "served as a template for deadpan, color-coded patches listing drugs such as LSD, GHB, and 2C-B across sleeves and shins, giving the spiral of addiction a clinical anchor that was equal parts disturbing and funny," according to Dazed Digital.

The show is not a glorification of drug use

“Ultimately, ‘Youth In Motion’ seeks to neither glorify nor condone the culture(s) of drugs; rather Simons seeks instead to consider the persistent, almost ubiquitous presence of narcotics (prescribed or otherwise) within our society and acknowledge our often conflicted relationships with them; in turn opening up a more nuanced dialogue around the implications for a society where addiction and the causes of addiction remain largely taboo subjects, with – as both Christiane F. and the current opioid crisis demonstrate – often untold human consequences.”

As for the clothes, Simons has the knack to transfer the zeitgeist into a garment. The outerwear was the strongest, coming in peacoat, parka and knee length versions. Interestingly there was not a bomber jacket in sight. Suiting came in micro checks and featured slim trousers, another strong category. Satin lined coats and parachute pants. Ultimately, the drug-emblazoned hoodies will be sold out before they even reach the stores.

Photos: Catwalkpictures