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Raf Simons evokes ’70s Berlin drug culture in menswear show

A model walks the runway at a Hugo Boss fashion show during Fashion Week in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK (AP) — Here are some highlights of the men’s collections presented at New York Fashion Week on Wednesday:

RAF SIMONS LAYS A SUMPTUOUS TABLE

Belgian superstar designer Raf Simons has been the talk of the U.S. fashion industry ever since he moved to New York a year ago to make his debut at Calvin Klein. But his menswear shows — for his own eponymous label — also have generated enormous buzz. On Wednesday, he did not disappoint.

Simons’ runway was built in the form of a huge wooden tabletop, laden with mounds of food and drink. There were bowls overflowing with red apples, blueberries and pomegranates. There were mountains of avocados, huge round cheeses and salamis. There were loaves of bread, and what looked like waffles dipped in chocolate. There were countless wine bottles. Guests all stood at the table, and were invited to partake.

It was all meant to evoke, in Simons’ words, the salons of mid-century couture houses, with their “opulent tableaux reminiscent of a Flemish still-life.” But when the models came out, accompanied by a wild, colorful laser show, it was a different world entirely that they were evoking: the late-’70s youth drug culture of West Berlin.

As he has done before, the pop culture-loving Simons took his inspiration from a movie, this time “Christiane F.,” a 1981 German cult film with a David Bowie soundtrack about a teenage girl who gets pulled into the drug scene. Pictures of the character emblazoned some of the designer’s garments.

The models wore shiny rain boots and long shiny gloves, large colorful coats and sweaters that hung off the body in various unusual ways. Some wore yellow or orange apron-like tops that said “Drugs” — a reference to the actual book covers of an ’80s play called “Drugs” which Simons described, in his show notes, as yet another cautionary tale.

Simons explained that his show sought to neither glorify nor condone the drug culture, “instead to consider the persistent, almost ubiquitous presence of narcotics (prescribed or otherwise) within our society and acknowledge our often conflicted relationships with them.”

And all that food? The label noted that the leftovers were to be donated to City Harvest, an organization that feeds New York City’s hungry, and the proceeds from the collection itself would go partly to organizations supporting recovering drug addicts.

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A BASEBALL VIBE — AND ARMIE HAMMER — AT BOSS

Actor Armie Hammer tapped his toes to the music in the front row at the Boss menswear show Wednesday, a collection that aimed to fuse a sporty baseball vibe with the label’s well-known focus on tailoring.

In what felt like a nod to the nasty weather outside — a morning dusting of snow that morphed into rain — there were generously oversized coats in soft cashmere, spacious down puffer jackets and some bright and shiny raincoats in yellow or white.

And there was a heavy emphasis on voluminous capes — some monochromatic, and others playfully adorned with baseball graphics.

The label called the collection “Sports Tailoring,” and said it was taking its inspiration from New York itself — “from the city, its imagery, icons and sports,” according to show notes. The baseball elements came across in baseball shirts and jackets, and in embroidery that featured pitchers and batters, along with the Hugo Boss initials.

Complementing the soft feel of wool and cashmere in grays, browns and charcoal were a number of garments in bright colored nylon, bringing “a new energy to traditional pieces.” The favored color for those bright moments: Neon yellow.

Exiting the show on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to a steady, cold downpour, one felt like running back in and grabbing one of those long, shiny rain slickers — or perhaps a calf-length cape.

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