Raf Simons bows out at Jil Sander
As soon as Monday's announcement broke that Raf Simons was to take over from John Galliano as the new Creative Director at Dior, the fashion industry started speculating - how would the famously minimalist modernist approach designing for the iconically feminine Parisian house?
That two out of the three most famous Parisian fashion houses - Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, and Chanel - have recently appointed new designers means a major aesthetic shake-up in the world of luxury style. Former Dior frontman John Galliano's signature layering, diverse references and theatrical presentations seemed to sum up the DJ culture of that age - all remixes, mash-ups and post-modernist nods to past golden eras and fashion icons. Bill Gaytten, Dior studio head and stand-in designer for the past couple of seasons, played it safer - taking us back through the Dior archives to reassuringly remind us of the high points in the grand house's history - including New Look-style pinched waists and flared skirts to romantic floral prints.
Tilda Swinton wears Raf Simons' design for Jil Sander at the 2011 Golden Globes
By contrast, Simons' focus at Jil Sander was "purism". His blockbuster collection during this seven year tenure there was the Spring/Summer 2011 season, featuring long gathered taffeta ballgown shirts, teamed with simple white T-shirt style tops - Tilda Swinton wore a vanilla version of the skirt to the 2011 Golden Globes, paired with a crisp white fitted shirt.
So now it's time for a new Age Of Dior. But the soon-to-start Creative Director says to expect more from him than just a pared-down aesthetic 'I don't think it's wrong to call me a minimalist' Simons tells WWD today 'It's wrong to call me a minimalist only. I am also a romantic person'. In fact, he claims his style will now shift from purism to a word more usually associated with Dior: 'feminity'. And that, according to the designer, is only appropriate 'When I'm married to ahour, I will fully embrace its original intention, its original heritage and meaning.' Besides, as he says 'I wouldn't go to that place [Dior] if I only had minimalism in mind. I'm very aware of what that environment is about.'
WWD reports Raf "elaborated on his affinity for the French house and its founder - up to and including a penchant for plant life and the outdoors, 'Even if I travel to Los Angeles, you will always see me going to the hills, to the ocean, or to Palm Springs,' he said, listing orchids, tulips and roses among his favourite blooms."
Simons is set to arrive in Paris to begin his new life at Dior today. While the towering proposition of following in the footsteps of some of fashion's greatest names might intimidate some, the 44-year-old Belgian is taking an intellectual approach; 'I'm interest in creativity, the evolution of creativity and relationship between creativity and the times we live in'.
Of the legacy left by Christian Dior himself, the designer says 'the shape evolution was constant, it was very revolutionary. The impact was immediate'. There is no doubt Simons will find much to inspire him in the venerable house's archives.
We will find out about the impact of Simons' own designs for Dior in July this year, when his first collection, Haute Couture for Winter 2012, will be shown in Paris.
The fashion world awaits with bated breath.