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Raf Simons | Born in 1968, Simons grew up outside of Antwerp in Neerpelt, close to the borders of Holland and Germany. Unique to fashion is that he studied industrial design in Genk, Belgium, graduated in furniture design but followed fashion from afar. When it came time for him to apply for an internship he sent a letter to designer Walter Van Beirendonck. Working in Paris with Van Beirendonck, Simons was exposed to the work of Martin Margiela and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Something clicked. But it was several years before he would act on it. After school he was especially working as furniture-designer for galleries and private interiors. He saved to move to Antwerp, where he met Linda Loppa, head of the fashion department at the Royal Academy of art. "Raf was already so determined, " Loppa says. "I was afraid after four years we would destroy his identity." She introduced Simons to her father, a prominent Belgian tailor, and Simons locked himself in his house: several months later he emerged with his first collection.
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