Fashion designer Raf Simons shutters his influential label

Written by Jacqui Palumbo, CNN

Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons will shutter his eponymous fashion brand after 27 years, he announced on Monday. Simons shared the unexpected news on Instagram, writing that his label’s recently unveiled spring-summer 2023 collection would be its last.

“I lack the words to share how proud I am of all that we have achieved,” he wrote. “I am grateful for the incredible support from my team, from my collaborators, from the press and buyers, from my friends and family, and from our devoted fans and loyal followers. Thank you all, for believing in our vision and for believing in me.”

Over the course of nearly three decades, Simons has become a widely-revered force within the fashion industry. He launched his youth culture-inspired menswear label in 1995 and has held successive creative director roles at Jil Sander, Christian Dior and Calvin Klein before taking on the role of co-creative director at Prada alongside Miuccia Prada in April 2020 — a post he still holds.
In 2017, he was named both Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his work at Calvin Klein, and Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council.

Raf Simons’ brand, which began as an underground menswear label in the 1990s, had become a mainstay of major runways. Credit: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Simons did not immediately return a request for comment on the decision to discontinue his label.

True to Simons’ history of taking cues from countercultral music scenes, including new wave, punk and electronic, his final collection was presented at London’s Printworks, a famed nightclub (and former newspaper factory) set to close next year. The presentation — his label’s first at London Fashion Week — was delayed due to Queen Elizabeth II’s passing and took place in mid-October. For the show, he eschewed the hierarchies common at runway shows, using the massive space to invite a crowd of 800 people from among and beyond fashion’s elite.

Raf Simons previously held posts at Christian Dior (pictured), Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, before taking on a co-creative director role at Prada in 2020.

Raf Simons previously held posts at Christian Dior (pictured), Jil Sander and Calvin Klein, before taking on a co-creative director role at Prada in 2020. Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage/Getty Images

I didn’t want a show for 300 people sitting in rows,” he told Vogue. “This is a show that’s pure democracy. No hierarchy. A London explosion of youth, life, dancing, and being together… I was thinking a lot about the body, in relation to dressing up and going out and performing.”

In what now seemed to signal the change in his career, Simons printed phrases from the late Belgian painter Philippe Vandenberg on some of the collection’s garments.

“They’re cruel words, like ‘Kill them all and dance,'” he was quoted as saying of the prints. “But (Vandenberg) didn’t mean killing people — he meant killing things that you’re doing creatively in order to move on and explore further.”

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