RAF SIMONS BIDS DIOR A FINAL FAREWELL
It was announced on Thursday 22nd October that Raf Simons was to end his 3 and a half year tenure at the storied maison of Christian Dior. The news came as quite a surprise, considering Simons had managed to invigorate the brand with the modernity it lacked under his predecessorJohn Galliano, now presiding over Maison Martin Margiela. The appointment of Raf Simons for the house of Christian Dior initially caused consternation as he had carved out a name for himself as a minimalist at his eponymous menswear label and consequently at Jil Sander. Yet Simons’ vision and expertise soon garnered the veneration it deserved it the worlds of ready-to-wear and haute couture alike: He managed to strike the perfect balance of adhering to the femininity so intrinsically associated with the Dior DNA whilst at the same time injecting an edge the label had never seen before.
RAF SIMONS’ FINAL COLLECTION FOR DIOR – SPRING/SUMMER 2016 RTW
Now, the accomplished design virtuoso from Antwerp has announced that he will end his reign as head of the house of Christian Dior, just three and a half years after he first took the helm. Rumours are already circulating as to who will fill his very big, very barmy Belgian shoes (Raf Simons is known for contrasting his almost monk-like sartorial uniform with his kooky footwear). Phoebe Philo has been mentioned, as his Riccardo Tisci, but one wonders if either would be happy to leave their respective houses at Céline and Givenchy when things are working so in their favour. Perhaps, in a move similar to Gucci, a lesser-known name will be appointed as the rise and rise of Alessandro Michele shows no signs of grinding to a halt. Simons has expressed his gratitude to head of LVMH, Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano, CEO of Christian Dior and has mentioned his desire to focus on his self-titled, street-wear inspired label.
WHY RAF SIMONS’ EXIT FROM DIOR WILL CAUSE A STIR
No doubt this will come as a major blow to Dior as Raf Simons succeeded with the brand where many had failed; taking a highly developed house in a very new direction without tampering with Dior’s original romantic, feminine aesthetic. Simons designed for a modern woman; the Dior codes were always present but yielded a sense of irreverence in silhouette and detailing. Unlike John Galliano, high drama was out, wearable fashion was in: He connected the dots so seamlessly between urban street style and haute couture in a way no other designer ever has. His inaugural collection for the iconic brand was encapsulated in Frédéric Tcheng’s documentary Dior and I, which played in cinemas earlier this year. The biopic highlighted the eight weeks before Raf Simons’ inaugural couture collection for Dior debuted at Paris Fashion Week in July 2012. The documentary was highly lauded and intimate moments between Simons and his atelier at Dior certainly tug at the heart-strings but underscoring the beauty and glamour is a pervading sense of tension. The incredible pressure such a short preparation time created is palpable, felt right through to the moments before the first step was taken on the runway. Especially evident in Dior’s two premieres, Florence Chehet and Monique Bailly seem to conquer almost unconquerable workloads.
WHY RAF SIMONS’ DECISION TO LEAVE DIOR IS A MAJOR BLOW
Not only was Raf Simons decision to leave Dior a blow to the brand artistically, it also yields potential financial strain, as Simons’ directional work had catalysed a 60% rise in sales for the brand. Who do you think should replace Raf Simons at Dior? Is your money on a well-known designer like Riccardo Tisci or Phoebe Philo, who reportedly wants to spend more time in London or would you bet on a relative newcomer like Jonathon Anderson of JW Anderson and Loewe or Sacai’s Chitose Abe? Only time will tell.