Dear Raf Simons: A Letter To The Designer Who Gets The Millennial Struggle
Just days before you quit Christian Dior, you said this in an interview with System: “When we were young, [we] had to make up our mind to investigate something — because it took time. You really had to search and dig deep. Now if something interests you, one second later, you can have it. And also one second later you drop it.”
Cathy Horyn described your profile as an “intimate portrait of a man questioning his situation, his life and his future.” I’m in my early twenties and I’m the online editor of this publication, and me too, me too, I’m questioning those things! I’m searching, I’m digging as deep as I think I possibly can. Sometimes I feel inspired and other times I just feel nauseous. I can explore any idea I have for this publication, but I can’t seem to find the time to explore the ideas I have for myself. Maybe I forgot how.
Where we’re both suffering is in how much time we spend on somebody else’s vision, and how little time we spend on our own. “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process,” you explained to Cathy, regarding Dior’s studio structure. “Technically, yes — the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important.”
I agree. I’m expected to maintain a certain amount of articles on this website each day, much like the six collections you were expected to accomplish annually. I’m turning out my article quota, but I don’t know if I love what I’m writing. It’s a scary thing, learning how to write for a platform. I’d imagine designing for a fashion house like Christian Dior and working under their limitations would prompt the same blurry creative process. I don’t even know what it means to create for myself. It seems like you miss that feeling. I’m always trying to get somewhere, anywhere. My friend Abeline keeps asking me to have an art show for no reason. Should I do that?
You have the money and connections to make any dream of yours come true. I, on the other hand, still have a lot to prove. “I have no problem with the continuous creative process,” you said. “Because it’s the reason I’m in this world. It’s always happening. I just did a show yesterday. Just now, while waiting in the car, I sent four or five ideas to myself by text message, so I don’t forget them. They are always coming.” I have at least three ideas a day that I don’t have the resources to even begin. They’re saved in my iPhone notes, patiently waiting for the day I have enough time, or money, or connections. I might start texting myself like you. I like that idea.
Hey Raf, I get it. Your ideas lose their magic if they sit there too long. All my iPhone note-ideas are backlogged, collecting dust. You told Cathy that you gained “a lot of emotional satisfaction from the [one-off collections] collaboration” released with your friend Sterling Ruby in autumn 2013. ”I think it worked because it was so unconnected to anything we had ever done before…in a way, it was not the same as doing one of many, many collections, or one of many, many art exhibitions.”
Maybe you’ve binged on fashion. Do you feel full? I’m hungry. I wish you could hang out with my friends. Because Kyle has no clue that he’s a genius, and each of his designs for HOMME BOY are so intricately flawless. Alexa understands female sexuality, and has created Demiegod, a brand that reflects that expertise from top to bottom. Dale takes his sketchbook everywhere he goes—he did the illustrations accompanying my letter. Alex’s commitment to his photography makes me want to try harder. Shane took the best part of each of his influences and created an aesthetic completely his own with Midnight Studios—then made it look easy. Abeline can turn any idea into the most meaningful art project. We’re begging the universe for comfort and you’re begging the universe for discomfort. We worry about our passion projects failing, about missing all the things you are ready to relinquish, and you are searching for all the time we have ahead of us. We should get lunch and talk about our feelings.
Will Riccardo Tisci replace you at Christian Dior? That’d be a step in an entirely different direction. Regarding his decision to serve as Givenchy’s creative director, Tisci told Vogue, “I didn’t really want to take the job. I was completely panicked about it. I came from a very simple family and that was the reason I said yes to this job.”
“For the money?” Hamish Bowles asked. “Yes,” said Tisci. “And I don’t regret it.” I understand his decision, but I admire yours more. Do lofty resources promise future friendships with the Kardashian sisters? Maybe, but what satisfaction does a famous friend give a genuine artist? And shouldn’t true artists not let resources dictate their creative decisions? You’re important to me Raf. By admitting to not knowing the answers to your own questions, you’ve shown me something real. I, and other millennials, need to enjoy our brands, our blogs, and our creative freedom while we have it. I like my friends. I admire your integrity. I never want to settle for money, and I never want to fear my own creativity. You’ve found the glimmer of purity you felt was lost—you don’t know where you’re going, but you know it’s somewhere wonderful. I’m unsure of where I’m going, but I know it’s somewhere great. “Can ideas only work within their existing systems?” you asked Cathy Horyn. I sure as hell hope not. I’m going to have an art show, for no reason except for that it might be wonderful. You’re invited.