Is Raf Simons Taking Over Christian Dior?

Now that Marc Jacobs is said to be out of the running for the top job at Dior, those in the know say Belgian designer Raf Simons is in talks to take over the creative side at the storied French fashion house.

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Women’s Wear Daily reported early Tuesday morning that Simons was in discussions with Bernard Arnault and the Dior management team, but neither party would comment on the talks. When and how Simons would take over creative direction of Dior would depend largely on when and how he winds down his contract at Jil Sander, the Italian brand for which he currently designs. Simons recently extended his contract with that company, though his name has been on the table for the Dior job for some time now.

Simons is known widely for his stark and minimalistic clothing — the things he designs for Jil Sander and for his eponymous label are rarely not pared down, refreshing alternatives to the undulating and sparkle-bedecked designs seen during couture week. He got his start designing menswear in the 90s and started his own menswear label in 1995. By the time Jil Sander, also known for its minimalism, came calling in 2004, Simons was already an established industry force. (It was also rumored, however falsely, that he was going to replace Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent earlier this year.)

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It’s Simons’ simple core aesthetic that has some people wondering whether he’s up to the task of satisfying the glamorous demands of the Dior customer, but those people might be forgetting that Dior has a history that goes farther back than the John Galliano era, which ended when that designer was dismissed for making anti-Semitic rants in public. They might also be forgetting that the Dior customer likes her share of straightforward clothing, too — look no farther than French First Lady Carla Bruni‘s favorite outfits, which are almost exclusively Dior, for proof of that.

Simons’ defenders point to his spring 2011 ready-to-wear collection for proof that he can do the job and do it well. And while those clothes are beautiful, we’re not sure we need to offer it up as an indication of his capabilities. His customers love him and they love his clothing. If he can do that at one fashion house, he can do it at another.


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