Who started it?
Raf Simons was born in Neerpelt, Belgium, in 1968. He began his career with the intention of becoming an industrial designer, and graduated from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 1991 with degrees in industrial and furniture design. During the next few years, he designed furniture for galleries and private homes before switching to more sartorial pursuits.
During this time he worked as an intern with Flemish designer Walter Van Beirendonck, one of the Antwerp Six, in Paris. Here, Simons was exposed to the work of Jean-Paul Gaultier and Martin Margiela. This experience inspired him to pursue fashion design, and he launched his Raf Simons label for men in 1995. He quickly became part of the influx of avant-garde Belgian designers into the fashion world during the mid- to late 1990s.
Despite his success, he stopped his signature label in the spring of 2000, because of growing business commitments. After a year-long sabbatical, he teamed with Gysemans Clothing Industry and resumed designing under his own name. He restructured his company in 2004, signing distribution deals with Futurenet Group and Mitsui.
In October 2000, the University of Applied Arts in Vienna appointed Simons as head professor of its fashion department - a position he held until June 2005. That month, he launched his secondary line, Raf by Raf Simons.
Also in 2005, the Prada Group named him creative director for German label Jil Sander, marking his first foray into womenswear.
His look is characterised by shape and cut. Simons' menswear is influenced by rebellious youth movements of the past, and he's noted for his play on goth, punk and mod styles. At his mainline menswear show, models sported elbow-length leather gloves, skinny-cut trousers and mod, straight-cut coats. The clothes were made of wool and tweed and paired with shiny, space-age knits. His younger Raf line focuses on slim-fitted denim, with trousers featuring silicon-printed stripes in bold colours.
Who wears it?
Ellen DeGeneres is a fan of his work for Jil Sander. Jefferson Hack, editor of Another Magazine and father of Kate Moss' child Lila Grace often attends his shows.
Simons' penchant for a runway away from the runway persists, with his autumn 2006 collection presented on top of the Arche de la Defense monument in Paris.
What else can I get?
Accessories and bags are also available.
Where can I buy it?
Raf Simons and Raf by Raf Simons are available at I.T stores (basement, 2 Kingston Rd, Causeway Bay, tel: 2881 6102) and Lane Crawford boutiques (IFC Mall, Central, tel: 2118 3388).