After three and a half years as the creative director of Dior, one of fashion’s most revered brands, Raf Simons is leaving.
Dior announced the news after the close of trading on the Paris Bourse, and said Simons came to the decision “for personal reasons.” In a statement reported by WWD (paywall), Simons elaborated: ”It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as creative director of Christian Dior’s women’s collection,” he said. “It is a decision 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 my work.”
The news is unexpected, to say the least. There were no signs of any discontent between Simons and LVMH, Dior’s parent company. Rather, in a short period Simons had managed to take Dior in a bold, brilliant, artful new direction, one which critics loved and customers bought. He even managed to dispel the distaste of John Galliano’s 2011 exit as Dior’s creative director, after an anti-semitic rant.
It’s possible the time constraints and pressure resulting from the demand to create six collections each year played a role, as they reportedly did in Galliano’s downfall.
In addition to Dior, Simons also designs his own label, which he has used to explore collaborations, such as one with artist Sterling Ruby and another with Adidas. But Simons seemed to thrive amid these multiple responsibilities, consistently turning out exquisite and thoughtful clothing.
Whatever his reasons, Simons will be leaving Dior widely admired and at the height of his powers. He was even the subject of the popular documentary Dior and I, which saw the making of his first collection for the label. It’s his second major exit since 2012, when he stepped down from Jil Sander after more than six successful years at the creative helm.
Dior is now left with the daunting task of filling Simons’s role.
One obvious contender for the position is Riccardo Tisci, the creative director of LVMH-owned Givenchy, which staged a stunning show in New York in September and has attracted a fashionable celebrity clientele.
Another is wunderkind J.W. Anderson, whose experimental work as creative director of Loewe, also owned by LVMH, has earned wide acclaim.
Other names are already being floated, though it will likely be some time before his successor is announced.