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Raf Simons' hats inspired by Flemish art

When Bruegel's paintings meet latex

Raf Simons' hats inspired by Flemish art When Bruegel's paintings meet latex

Raf Simons' latest FW22 show, staged yesterday through a digital presentation, marked a change of gear for the Belgian designer's brand that, after the gloomy and minimalist spring show last September in Paris, returned with a new creative exuberance that was expressed, on yesterday's catwalk, through an eclectic use of materials,  of Gothic silhouettes but, above all, through a new inspiration that did not come, this time, from the youth subcultures but from a painting by Pieter Brugel, the Netherlandish Proverbs.

Bruegel's painting, painted in 1559, paints a city panorama in which each group of figures represents a proverb of the time such as "Banging your head to the wall", "Crying over spilled milk", "Standing on hot coals" and so on. The central figure of the painting, a man wearing a long blue cape symbol of marital infidelity, is precisely the source of inspiration for the opening look of the show – a visor cap that becomes a sort of cloak created, among other things, by the milliner Stephen Jones, Kim Jones' regular collaborator for his Dior shows.

The rest of the hats in the collection have shapes always inspired by Bruegel's painting, which is populated by about a hundred different figures or allegorical scenes that provide ample inspiration for the other headpieces of the show. The idea of the painting, that of representing human madness and foolishness, is a theme that does not seem to be explored too much by Simons who for this season has returned to mix aesthetics and apparently contrasting inspirations – the only imaginable link with Bruegel's painting or flemish world could lie in the general forms of certain looks such as the one in the finale that mixed a kind of wide Tudor hat in purple faux fur,  a sort of dress/shirt with pink military straps and shiny PVC pants combined with an orange bag in the shape of a giant bow. 

Many other looks have been minimalist – composed of individual deconstructions of the classic trench coat or men's coat replicated in leather, vinyl and shiny synthetic materials. A series of women's dresses halfway between the prairie dress, the ghost of Victorian London and the spage age dresses of Pierre Cardin – the shortest of which also become a proposal of genderless dress as, in the last two years, the oversized shirts had been. Other and various looks seem to continue the Gothic moodboard, with black hoods, long hoods, those hats that you do not understand if they refer to the feluccas and helmets of the knights or the helmets of The Day the Earth Stood Still or the robots of exploitation science fiction.  The most conventional parts of the collection, to which Simons had already accustomed us in the latest collections, such as the printed suits, are decorated with a headset that seems to have come out of the Middle Ages while a series of memento mori, skeleton-jewels that kiss or dangle covered with gems, indifferently decorate lapels of jackets and earlobes.