Raf Simons and Peter Saville’s collaboration is now the stuff of legend, but back in 2003 it was brand new. With New Order on the soundtrack, Simons presented fishtail anoraks with four album covers designed by Saville on their backs: New Order’s Technique and Power, Corruption & Lies, OMD’s Dazzle Ships, and Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. A set of three fetched $20,000 on the secondary market in 2016. By 2017 Simons had resurrected the graphics for the spring 2017 collection he presented in New York, but Joy Division has always loomed large in his work, visually and spiritually.
Beyond the coveted graphics, Closer offered a tongue-in-cheek take on British dressing, all newsboy caps, white wool coats, aran sweaters, and a Union Jack stitched into the back of a shearling jacket. It could be the Peter Saville treatment, but the models look particularly beautiful in this show, ethereal even. For Simons it marked a pivot from the aggressive shows of the early aughts to a more refined, if still rebellious, elegance.