Paris Menswear July 06

PARIS, July 1, 2006 - In the centerfold of the Raf Simons show invitation was a long list of names that included Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong and Alan Shepard - three men who helped mankind break through new frontiers. Perhaps that kind of futuristic outlook stands in contrast to current neo-conservative global trends, but that's the approach Simons has taken for men's fashion. There is a refreshing simplicity to his work, pieces that at first seem rather nondescript, but then in clearer light stand out for their details: the inside of pant pockets glazed with metallic silver, a raincoat cut with intergalactic elliptical holes at the arms, a parka worked with a monk-like hood. Helmut Lang's work used to pack the same heat, up until his inability to change with the times, put him out of work.

The Simons show on Saturday night was set to beating soundtrack and before a video of young men, mostly stoned, all ecstatic, filmed at a series of underground parties.

The collection itself was based in Simons' habitual black, in the form of pleated shorts, and white, as in formfitting turtleneck tops. The Van Gough quote "there is no blue without yellow and without orange" became reality in the series of muscle shirts painted in geometrical prisms of green, yellow and blue. Tightly cut suits and pencil trousers worn with sandals said something about the way young men dress - or dress up.

If Raf Simons is somewhat of a mystic in the fashion world, capable of seeing what is around the corner and acting on it before it happens, then he lived up to his reputation by being the only designer thus far to foresee the heat wave that has settled upon Paris, and to stage his show in air-conditioning.

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