Raf Simons' Organization Man
Sat Jan 24, 12:00 PM EST
Godfrey Deeny

Paris – There was a time when Raf Simons was a revolutionary designer, famed for his disgruntled adolescence riot shows and seen as the young designer most in step with youth culture. But on Friday in Paris, in the midst of the biggest crisis financial crisis in 70 years, Simons offered the most corporate of responses to the current predicament.

Where once his models - their faces wrapped to protect from discovery by police - walked with flares underneath a concrete Le Corbusier building in one of his iconic Paris shows, this season his catwalk was crammed with men in traditional one-button suits, their hair perfectly in place, their expression serious.

Simons went for the organization man for fall 2009, in a show that underlined the designer's tailoring strengths, even if it marked the end of his revolutionary youth.

The big idea of the collection was the mirror, used on the invitation, and as inserts in jacket and coat lapels. Simons did cut some splendid gray coats, adding pizzazz with contrasting sleeves in knits or bright turquoise.

Staged in the Musee de l'Homme, there was even a series of giant mirrors rotating on the runway intermittently reflecting the blazing lights of the Eiffel Tower on the other side of the Seine.

The best looks in this signature men's collection were neoprene mini boleros worn over suits and coats that were a smart dramatic touch, even if few men will wear them off the runway.

Invitations to Simons' shows are justly prized, for his famous sense of theatre and ability to comment with fashion. However, this collection was a rather safe, even hackneyed, reaction to the huge economic sea change, by a designer who can do a lot better than this.

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