Months after its star designer John Galliano was shown the door, the House of Dior has named his successor — Raf Simons
The year plus wait felt like a decade for fashion insiders, more so since the shoes to be filled were those of the larger than life John Galliano. The top design post at Dior, part of the luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton-Moet Hennessey was finally filled on Monday with Raf Simons, former Jil Sander’s creative director. For months the fashion industry speculated over who would take over from the disgraced predecessor Galliano, who was fired after his anti-Semitic outburst in Paris. Names like Marc Jacobs, head designer for Louis Vuitton and Alber Elbaz of Lanvin were being touted as contenders for the position. After Galliano’s exit, the last year, Dior’s collections were designed by longtime studio chief Bill Gaytten.
Born in Neerpelt, Belgium in 1968, Raf Simons graduated in Industrial and furniture design in 1991 and started working as a furniture designer for galleries and interior design projects. A sudden change of heart saw him become a self-trained menswear designer and launch his label Raf Simons in 1995. A sabbatical in 2000 became necessary when he could no longer cope with the business side of fashion. Remerging in 2001 with new set of collaborators and restrategising his business in 2005, he launched a new line Raf by Raf Simons. Named creative director for Jil Sander (majority ownership by the Prada Group) in July 2005, Raf Simons bid a tearful farewell to the brand last season to make way for the return of the label’s founder.
Raf Simons will be the Artistic director of Dior’s women’s wear Haute Couture, Ready To Wear and Accessory collections. He will continue with his own menswear line as well. For those who have worshipped his chic, minimalistic aesthetic, it is a restless wait to see how he marries his sensibility with Dior’s ultra feminine brand history. And, if he will rise well beyond Galliano’s shadow of ‘flamboyant and indulgent’ artistry, and succeed in making his own place in Dior.