When Raf Simons was 14 years old, he watched Christiane F., the 1981 German film that portrays a drug scene in West Berlin in the 1970s and the story of a girl in her early teens who fell into drug addiction and prostitution. While he’s admitted he was “way too young” for the movie, he was completely enamored. “I was obsessed with it,” he told T magazine.
Decades later, Christiane F. has appeared in Simons’ work. His Fall/Winter 2001-2002 “Riot, Riot, Riot” collection featured patches of images from Uli Edel’s visceral film. Last night, the Belgian designer presented his Fall/Winter 2018 “Youth in Motion” collection, which was also inspired by Christiane F.
“Christiane F. has long occupied a pivotal place in Raf Simons' imagination,” the show’s press release explained. “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 curriculum.”
Piles of fruit and vegetables, waffles, charcuterie, bouquets of flowers, and bottles and glasses full of wine (the leftovers of which will be donated to City Harvest, a non-profit organization that feeds New Yorkers in need) lined the runway as models walked in Simons’ latest designs. Skinny cargo pants in duchesse satin were mixed with glossy vinyl gloves worn with peacoats and puffer jackets. Patches emblazoned with LSD, GHB, XTC, and 2C-B adorned scarves and kneepads of jeans. T-shirts were printed with images from Christiane F., including one of actress Natja Brunckhorst, who plays Christiane. Simons also presented hooded tabards with “Drugs” printed across the front—a nod to a mid-1980s play by Cookie Mueller and Glenn O’Brien.
Despite the references to a film like Christiane F. and images of narcotics, Simons isn’t actually glorifying drug use and addiction. “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 dialog 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,” an official statement from the brand read. In fact, part of the proceeds from sales of the collection will be donated to organizations that support those recovering from addiction.
As more brands leave New York and head overseas, Simons continues to keep the Big Apple’s fashion week alive—even if just for a little bit.
There were a total of 41 looks in the show. Here are some of the best ones.