After a year of feverish speculation, LVMH finally announced the news we’ve all been waiting for and confirmed Raf Simons the new artistic director of Dior. Twitter buzzed with excitement as the fashion industry awoke to the news of a momentous new chapter for two of the industry’s biggest players.
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Raf Simons is one of the most exciting designers working today. During his six-year tenure at Jil Sander, he repositioned the brand at the height of the luxury market, not only satisfying the German label’s loyal fanbase, but also recruiting a legion of new fans. His runway presentations fast became one of Milan fashion week’s hottest tickets. Poetic, elegant and free-thinking, Raf injected new life into Jil Sander. His passion for music, art and contemporary cultures infiltrated into his designs, offering a poetic quality that immediately appealed to the new generation. This was modern, female dressing at its finest.
Raf’s final three collections for Jil Sander saw him step forth in an elegant new direction, and to many offered a hint of what was to come. The arrival of simple, couture like shapes and precision cuts harkened back to Dior’s New Look – cinched waists and full skirts appeared almost molded to the body –showcasing Raf’s passion and flair for craftsmanship. Who can forget the cocoon like coats, dresses and cashmere ski caps of autumn/winter 11, the purity and elegance of spring/summer 12, and Raf’s Jil Sander swansong; a heart-stoppingly beautiful finale of dusty pink eveningwear and pastel nightgowns. What is Jil Sander’s loss is Dior’s gain. And the French luxury house welcomed the Belgian designer with open arms.
In a short statement released earlier this week, Dior applauded Raf as “One of the greatest current talents,” and welcomed his ability to “inspire and propel [Dior] into the 21st century” with “tremendous excitement”. Raf too spoke out about his appointment. “It is with the utmost respect for its tremendous history, its unparalleled knowledge and craftsmanship that I am joining the magnificent house of Dior,” he said. “I am truly humbled and honoured to become artistic director of the most celebrated French house in the world.”
Simons will make his Dior debut at Paris couture week in July. It will be the first time he has officially designed couture, and the excitement in the fashion industry is near on biblical. “It marks a totally fresh and exciting new beginning,” Lulu Kennedy told The Evening Standard. “Raf’s humble, untroubled character will somehow wipe the slate clean for the house after the events of last year.”
In The Pick Me Up Issue, No: 314, Raf told i-D, “I think that every designer should strive to make a difference, to question things, to find a way of having a dialogue with their audience. I want to make sure people fall in love with the brand and that they are satisfied.” We wish him every success.
Text: Holly Shackleton
Portrait: Rineke Dijkstra