Raf Simons Exits Dior

Raf Simons Exits Dior

In a Shocking Announcement, LVMH Confirmed This Morning That Raf Simons Will Not Renew His Contract With Christian Dior. In a Preview of V's November Issue, Catch a Glimpse of His 2016 Resort Collection by Simon Procter, as Editor Patrik Sandberg Looks Back on a Short but Bewildering Tenure by One of Fashion's Creative Giants

In a Shocking Announcement, LVMH Confirmed This Morning That Raf Simons Will Not Renew His Contract With Christian Dior. In a Preview of V's November Issue, Catch a Glimpse of His 2016 Resort Collection by Simon Procter, as Editor Patrik Sandberg Looks Back on a Short but Bewildering Tenure by One of Fashion's Creative Giants

Photography: Simon Procter

Text: Patrik Sandberg

This morning, chief executive officer Sidney Toledano announced that Raf Simons will part ways with the house of Christian Dior, having decided not to renew his contract. The sixth designer to take the reins of the brand, Simons famously succeeded John Galliano following his turbulent and much-publicized firing, taking the helm in early 2012.

As captured in Frédéric Tcheng's documentary Dior and I, Simons's assimilation into the formidable atelier of Dior and his subsequent upheaval of the brand's creative direction—ranging from haute couture to seasonal and pre-seasonal ready-to-wear—was a nerve racking process, albeit one that revealed a stunning symmetry between Simons's vision as a designer and that of Dior himself. In much the same way the atelier's artisans took to Simons's modern updates on house classics, the fashion industry came to regard the nascent marriage between Simons and Dior as one that held a beaming promise of longevity.

Yet here we are. In an age with a fashion media cycle that all but thrives on the ins and outs of designers at Parisian houses, Raf Simons has still somehow managed to shock the industry with his departure, an impressive feat in a business where rumors run rampant regarding comings and goings (most recently, these have focused on Phoebe Philo, Riccardo Tisci, and even a possible retirement for Karl Lagerfeld, but not Simons).

While rumors will undoubtedly rocket from the ether regarding who will next take the helm of one of LVMH's crown jewels, Simons's tenure at Dior is one to be celebrated for its impact, brief as it may have been. His ingenuity and "nostalgia for the future" has sent a ricochet of influence across the fashion industry, his ideas palpable in the collections of numerous other designers. In a 180-degree pivot from the historically minded, romantic fantasies of Galliano before him, Simons took the house of Dior in a bold, austere, yet incandescent new direction, exploring energetic frontiers of color, texture, fabrication, and technique that never ceased to feel fresh and unexpected. In his standout Fall 2013 couture collection, Simons reoriented the common wisdom regarding haute couture by pulling references from seemingly incompatible global cultures and mish-mashing them into a parade of blockbuster psychedelia in which no two looks were the same. With his final couture collection, for Fall 2015, Simons's salute to the Flemish masters hybridized with New Look proportions led to an industry-wide ripple in favor of Guinevere dresses and renaissance inspired sleeves, collars, and metal detailing.

Under Simons, Dior also produced some unforgettable fashion shows. From the designer's debut in a Parisian salon lined with over one million fresh flowers to his sumo-wrestling ring spectacle in Tokyo to Pierre Cardin's Palais Bulles in the south of France (which I recall in V's upcoming winter issue, and is captured by Simon Procter below), the Simons stamp on Dior is one that those of us lucky enough to have witnessed it won't likely forget for as long as we live. Though his reasons for leaving have not been disclosed (Cathy Horyn has some theories), it is of some solace that we can look forward to the master's mind at work in the continuing form of his men's collections at his own brand.

Regardless, the revolving door has been reopened. So who's next?

For more on Raf Simons and his resort collection for Dior, pick up V98, on stands November 7.

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