Before he stunned the fashion industry with his move from Christian Dior to Calvin Klein, Belgian designer Raf Simons staged a spring–summer 2017 runway show for his namesake label at Pitti Uomo, the Florence-based menswear event.
There, he introduced a jaw-dropping collection dedicated entirely to the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, integrating some of his most famous work into a ready-to-wear line that glorified the artist’s leather fetish and bohemian style. The best part: Simons didn’t shy away from Mapplethorpe’s X-rated material — like an image of an erect penis, which he embossed on the back of a red jacket. (Tamer pieces featured Mapplethorpe’s floral still lifes and portraits of Patti Smith, his longtime friend and muse).
Following the big reveal, Simons told Vogue he shelved earlier concepts for original designs after he received an email from the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation suggesting a collaboration. The result: wearable Mapplethorpe that lives up to the lensman’s provocative legacy—and one brilliantly irreverent, slightly less wearable take on the Members Only jacket.
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