[Photo by David X Prutting/BFA.com]
Fashion musical chairs continues with the unexpected announcement today that Raf Simons is leaving Dior. It comes only a few months after the news this summer that Alexander Wang would be leaving Balenciaga, making each designer's Spring 2016 collection their last at the historic houses.
While details are scarce about Simons' decision to exit the brand, statements from the designer and Bernard Arnault and Sidney Toledano, Chairman and CEO of Dior's parent company, LVMH, and CEO of Christian Dior Couture, respectively, suggest it was an amicable, mutual decision made after they were unable to reach an agreement over his contract. WWD reports that Dior says Simons "reached this decision for personal reasons," suggesting he wanted to focus his attention on other, non-fashion interests and on his personal life, away from the relentless hustle of the fashion world's never-ending runway cycle. In a statement, Simons says:
"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. 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. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been an immense privilege to write a few pages of this magnificent book. I want to thank Mr. Bernard Arnault for the trust he has put in me, giving me the incredible opportunity to work at this beautiful house surrounded by the most amazing team one could ever dream of. I have also had the chance over the last few years to benefit from the leadership of Sidney Toledano. His thoughtful, heartfelt and inspired management will also remain as one of the most important experiences of my professional career."
Praised for bringing some of the minimalist designs he was known for at his previous post at Jil Sander to the storied couturier, Simons took the reigns of the haute couture, women's ready-to-wear and accessories collections (designer Kris Van Assche is in charge of menswear) in 2012 from Bill Gaytten, who helmed the brand following John Galliano's firing after his notorious anti-Semitic outburst in 2011. While there's no word yet on who will succeed Simons at Dior, WWD is speculating that Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci may be a top contender for the role, having impressed LVMH with"his wizardry with couture -- and modern communications, using pulse-pounding fashion shows, social media, edgy advertising and his extensive celebrity connections to heat Givenchy to the boiling point." The outlet also suggests that the brand could be approaching previous candidates for the position when it was last up for grabs in 2012 -- designers like Lanvin's Alber Elbaz and Proenza Schouler's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez.
But one thing's for sure, whoever gets named successor will have some elegant, modernist shoes to fill.