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Paris Menswear Report
Raf Is All The Rave - click for photos
Written by Timothy Hagy

PARIS, July 4 - Through the late night they stream, always to some creepy destination where enigmatic signs point the way. Up ramps, down elevators, around concrete pools, the crowds of young Euro kids, off duty models, the powerhouse of New York publishing and the fashion elite all go to see what Raf Simons has to say.

The futuristic Belgian designer made his fortune all but predicting 9/11 with his anti-globalization show staged in the midsummer of 2001. (W. all but lost his on an expedition that same August, ignoring early CIA warnings and brushing aside suggestions that he was 'disconnected'.)

Saturday near midnight, Simons staged his Spring 2005 men's wear show in La Géode, a concrete dome built on the site of a former slaughterhouse in a working class neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris. The staging itself was a work of art, with boys floating up and down escalators like clones in white, gray and black suits. Perhaps most striking about this season's show was the fact that sartorial panache is back in favor, and the crisp suits in graphic linear silhouettes alternated with capes and parkas with cylindrical curves. The planetary designs, often in plastic, were somewhat suggestive of Pierre Cardin or André Corrèges in the 1960s. But look carefully, and you notice the modern leather and acrylic pants, where seams and patches and even elliptical zippers were worked meticulously into a balanced pattern. Redingotes curled around elastic body suits, and Batman-in-white capes fluttered with intricate draping and stitching.

Influenced in part by the music of Edgar Varèse (1883-1965) the French composer considered to be the father of electronic music, the show revealed just how securely Simons has his finger on the pulse of the young generation. Two buyers from New York testified that his pieces sell out as fast as they can put them on the shelves, and that the age of the average customer is 15-20.

In a departure from past tradition, Raf Simons, the designer who once never showed his face in public, made a dramatic entrance, gliding down an escalator to a roaring standing ovation.

Raf Is All The Rave - click for photos

Dior, Gaultier, Kenzo, Marongiu, Matsushima, Paul Smith, Petrov, Dubuc, Simons, Vuitton

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