All eyes were on New York late Wednesday evening as Raf Simons was about to make his U.S. debut with his eponymous menswear collection for AW17. Then all of these eyes busted a capillary when Beyoncé announced the arrival of the Carter Twins. But as it turns out, Mr Simons had his gaze firmly fixed on his new stomping ground too. The invite adorned with black tape asking guests to ‘WALK WITH ME’ suggested an open invitation to the NYC crowd that hardly needed any encouragement to follow Raf on this new path. The welcoming projection outside of the show venue, West 24th Street’s Gagosian Gallery, was a precursor to the love to be shown inside. The collection was a strong ode to a new hometown (and by extension an entire nation) that will never cease to inspire. Riffing on Milton Glaser’s I <3 New York iconography and deftly redirecting it to a personal level, the love was more than palpable, it was spelled out for all to gather. As the result of a partnership with the Woolmark Company, the knitwear jumpers slouched to extreme lows, almost like traditional cross-body Highlander sashes, while detached knit sleeves warmed up the cold gloss of beautifully cut peak-lapel overcoats cinched with common duct tape in punk fashion. Add to that those striking sets of neck-baubles and it gave me immediate flashbacks of playing dress-up trying to make dad’s coat fit and tossing on mom’s pearls for that total look. Trousers puddled over clunky loafers with abandon while T-shirts - that will be flying off the racks in a New York minute -asked all to ‘Walk With Me Down The Right-Hand Path’, invited us to 'Summer Games' or simply stated ‘America’. As always with a Raf Simons collection, the subliminality of the messaging is the fodder for us to chew on and interpret. If you'll remember the way Raf's Dior models were carrying rotund bags like they were in a chain gang mere weeks before his announcement that he felt his role at the house was no longer to be borne? The slogans asking us for 'Any Way Out of This Nightmare?' could be read as a desperate plea or a confident reassurance that we can escape this political climate, while another piece gave us the quizzical words 'New Dawn Fades'. As Simons stated in his recent talk with GQ: "I’m not gonna say - I’m gonna show. I’ve always thought that it’s interesting if I can cause a relevant dialogue, or a constructive dialogue." Pieced together, all of these looks amounted to a message of stout resistance to darkness and cohesiveness through a focus on love and diversity (just look at this season’s casting). All that’s left for us to do now is await the passage of time, because on February 10, the frenzy starts all over again for Calvin Klein Collection. You may have left our continent, Raf, but we’ll go on ahead and send you an I <3 You right back.