The position has finally been filled.
Late Monday Belgian designer Raf Simons was named as the next artistic director of Christian Dior. The post had been empty for nearly a year, since John Galliano’s dramatic departure in March 2011. (Galliano was fired after the designer’s drunken anti-Semitic remarks in a Parisian café went viral.) Mr. Simons, 44, began his career in men’s wear in 1995 and went on to revitalize men’s and women’s lines at Jil Sander 10 years later. Jil Sander’s has returned as artistic director of her house, freeing Simons for the Dior position. Simons will be in charge of haute couture, women’s ready-to-wear and accessories, starting with the July fall haute couture show in Paris. Simons will continue to maintain his men’s line.
How Simons will translate his own vision for Dior will be a top question at the Paris show in July. His palette has produced both minimalist and maxed-out colors on precision designs. Although attributed with the bright-color trend we now see, his designs bear towards simplicity. Simons could not have a more different style from that of the founder, or even the recent Galliano. He has a modernist vision and a spare, linear style based on fine tailoring. His minimalist designs for Jil Sander seem at odds with Dior’s ultra-femininity.
Although this dichotomy of style may appear as a challenge, the company saw a need for a designer who could tip Dior toward the 21st century, veering it away from the boudoir glamour and fantastical imagination of Galliano. It is the fashion house’s hope that this is where Simons will propel its iconic style.
Still, this is a new arena for Simons. He lacks the celebrity of a Galliano, and his work at Jil Sander did not face as broad an audience to please as Dior’s will. Simons has a full plate ahead of him. He will be faced with balancing exciting, fashion-forward design with global appeal that will find its place both on red carpets and in department stores. It will be interesting to see what Simons has in store this July.