According to a statement released by Dior today, the creative mastermind who liberally sprinkled modern haute couture with a much-needed shower of (Ziggy) Stardust has left the building, after three and a half years as the brand’s artistic director. In it, the 47-year-old Belgian, who had previously admitted to being drawn, above all else, to the supreme challenges inherent in assuming creative control of such an iconic house, claims that his decision is “based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside of my work”.
Simons has never shied away from expressing his qualms regarding the deleterious effects of ‘fast’ fashion’s ever-increasing pace on the creative process, stating in an interview for System magazine earlier this year, “When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process. Technically, yes — the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important. When you try an idea, you look at it and think, “Hmm, let’s put it away for a week and think about it later”. But that’s never possible when you have only one team working on all the collections” – a sentiment which surely resonates with creatives toiling in every area of the fashion industry, if not far, far beyond.
But perhaps, having indubitably surmounted those challenges which first attracted him to the role – revolutionising a name synonymous with mid-century romanticism with an uncompromisingly modernist aesthetic, and increasing revenues by 60% in the process – Raf feels his work at the label is done? Playfully, irreverently, yet always thoughtfully combining pop culture references and futuristic elements with nostalgic nods to Dior’s heritage, Simons has said (with reference to his Bowie-soundtracked Spring 2015 couture collection) that he “was interested in what Christian Dior would have become if he had gone through the ’60s and ’70s with all the crazy revolution and complete experimentation” – and surely the man who suffered public protests to bring the world his ‘New Look’ would have appreciated Raf’s rebellious spirit (even if not necessarily a high-shine over-the-knee number)?
We’ll miss him but, if he had to go, we’re glad he stayed long enough to make superhero footwear high-fashion… And we’ll be keeping a close eye on the next moves of both man and brand…