The Virginia creeper plant, native to North America, is an unstoppable, deciduous vine, turning from verdant green to a kaleidoscope of reds and auburns in the fall. Botany books note that the creeper is the kinder, less toxic cousin of Poison Ivy. Raf Simons’s fall 2002 collection, named after the vine, is a kinder take on nature and environmentalism than his spring 2003 collection, which would be a paean about overconsumption and pollution.
Set against a woodland backdrop, the collection was a big one for Simons’s now-signature knitwear, with boxy argyles and multi-colored weaves starting to appear en masse. The most famous of Simons’s Creeper sweaters is the Nebraska version. Made to pill, fray, and develop holes, the collegiate-looking crewneck has become one of the designer’s most coveted grails, worn in music videos by A$AP Rocky and Rihanna. (It also spurred an homage collection from Virgil Abloh in 2015.)
Don’t let the superstar sweater distract from this show’s other innovations. Virginia Creeper marks the rare appearance of a puffer coat in Simons’s collections. Maybe those items are the secret grails here.