400,000 delphinium, aka bluebells. Not those false things you pick up at the craft store, mind you, but 400,000 real bluebells carefully picked from the French countryside (18 days worth of searching) and carefully replanted on an artificial hill in the palace courtyard just out the Louvre. 300 hours of manual labor that will be completely gone by this time tomorrow. Why? Because Raf Simons wanted to create a fantasy of a girl walking out of a floral universe and causing everyone’s life to bloom.
This is certainly the most elegant and delicate looking collection we’ve seen from Raf. He’s made the most of the countryside influence, keeping the vast majority of the looks white or blue. Even the few pastels we saw were extremely pale. This is a very light, and light-weight, collection that breathes of spring, complete with its cool mornings and damp evenings.
What one notices from the outside are the scalloped edges on everything, from the first look of a white shorts/cropped top ensemble, to the last, a cropped blue knit sweater over a white dress with mermaid tail. The continuity of that one element makes this season’s clothes easily detectable and distinct from his other collections, which for the collector and/or aficionado increases the value considerably. There won’t be any confusion five years from now when these pieces start hitting resale/consignment stores. This also makes them a good investment for your wardrobe.
There are also a lot of stripes through the collection, most notably pinstripes alternating blue/white on several pieces. Where they appear on some of the dress layers they are especially effective. The broader stripes in different colors don’t always work as well, and with such a sea of blue and white almost felt out of place, as though they were part of a different collection.
Shoulders are especially broad and sleeves are ballooned, not unlike the inverted shape of the flowers. Raf really likes that scalloped crop top look, though, and one might make the argument that he overuses it by applying it to everything except the coats. Even the tops under the masculine styled suits are cropped with scallops.
Another delicate touch are the neck scarves and chokers on every look. The scarves feel especially French, with their jewelled broaches fastened just to the left of center. There’s a sense of vulnerability and innocence in these pieces that calls back to a much more innocent time and a much more demure woman.
Commercially, Raf is likely taking a very important step here, moving away from the more art-centered cuts and pulling the label back toward a sense of luxury and elegance. This approach has worked well for brands such as Oscar de la Renta, Burberry, and others who have seen their sales increase while more avant-garde styles have struggled. Simons has managed to mix things up just enough for the collection to feel creative and familiar at the same time, so its appeal is likely to be broad.
Will Raf continue in this more refined and careful direction? If he does, will others follow? It will be interesting to see how his strategy plays out.