Celebrity Stylist David Casavant on Why Rappers Love Fashion Favorite Raf Simons: Exclusive

A$AP Rocky
Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage

A$AP Rocky attends the Raf Simons/Sterling Ruby Menswear Fall/Winter 2014-2015 Show as part of Paris Fashion Week. 

From Rihanna to Vic Mensa, Big Sean to ASAP Rocky, rappers love Raf Simons. Even the seldom humble Kanye West told, when referencing Yeezy Season 1, “You guys know my f---ing influences. You see Raf Simons right there.” Simons is a veteran fashion designer who started his career at age 17 by making clothes "kids" in the counterculture would want to wear and then joined Calvin Klein as the company's very first creative director.

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While the designer has been making waves with the underground music scene for years (see his F/W 1998 runway show when he featured members of the German electro-pop group Kraftwerk as models, or his F/W 2003 "Closer" collection, which included New Order album art screen-printed on parks and bombers), he's now front and center thanks to the hip-hop game.

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 Camouflage bomber from the Raf Simons A/W 2001 season. “Kanye wearing it really pushed forward interest in archival Raf,” he says. 

"A few years ago, hip-hop started to feel too one-dimensional and forged, but I think young people are too smart for that now," David Casavant, a 25-year-old celebrity stylist who's worked with the likes of Alicia Keys and Kanye West, told Billboard. "They want something with more meaning in their music and in their image, which goes as deep as what clothes they wear."

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The best example of this deeper meaning might be the piece that helped introduce younger, millennial audiences to Simons: a repurposed, camouflage military bomber jacket from his F/W 2001 collection "Riot Riot," worn by Yeezy during Milan Fashion Week (above).

"That bomber has become iconic," Casavant said. "At the time it was a statement about what youth culture was wearing, instead of what was 'in fashion' at the time. You can feel his authenticity in it, and rappers can relate to that,"