Written by Ludovica Colacino,
with accompanying photograph of Raf Simons sourced via Vogue UK.
It’s 2012 and Raf Simons has just taken John Galliano’s place at Dior after his dismissal. The initial fear of representing la Maison has left its place to the dazzling creativity of the designer; since his first haute couture collection, Simons aimed for the modernization of the brand without losing sight of its traditions. His later designs, collections and shows will only underline how deep his understanding of Christian Dior is. It’s easy to see the legendary elegance of the lines even underneath Simons’ most edgy creations.
After 20 years spent working for his own brand named after him – plus a seven year commitment to Jil Sanders as a creative director – Simons was looking for a much wider audience and for a challenge, especially towards himself and his talent. Dior is already one of the most luxurious brands existing today, and the perspective of writing a chapter of its story is an unbelievable opportunity.
It was a risk for the house to hire someone with a very far creativity from Dior’s traditions – or, at least, that’s what most of the people thought as Raf Simons was announced as creative director. After Galliano’s provocative twist of Dior’s style, la Maison had to find their roots again – back to that brief, but intense, decade that set the starting point of the brand itself. Ten years of Christian Dior in the world of fashion is very a short time to be inspired by – especially if that decade happened more than half a century ago. La Maison witnessed plenty of evolution in almost eighty years of creations and innovations since the post-war times, therefore it’s not easy to empathize with its founder nowadays. The romanticism of Dior’s creation is undeniable and Raf had to completely change his point of view in order for him to approach it truthfully. As he’s said in an interview for Business of Fashion: “I feel like it’s not good for me to be too analytical and too intellectual, because maybe it won’t work for the Dior audience. It requires from the designer — me, in this case — a different way of thinking and I find that a big challenge, because I was used to a certain way of thinking throughout Raf Simons and Jil Sanders […]”.
Raf Simons’ style could had been defined calculative and mathematical as he’s been a menswear designer for a longer part of his career; Dior’s traditions, on the other hand, are profoundly bounded to the concept of femininity. Gracious, beautiful, and elegant – with a tiny waist and wider hips: that’s how Dior pictured the woman of the forties in his sketches and creations. Despite his much wider experience in menswear design, ironically, Simons is in charge of the womenswear section of la Maison – which is nonetheless another challenge for him. Nevertheless, Simons’ floral debut in July 2012 smashed all the doubts the fashion industry had about him with the rebirth of the classical Christian Dior. His studies about Christian Dior’s style, history, and life advantaged him into the comprehension of the brand – bringing him on the further level of even finding an emotional connection with the founder himself.
We remember Simons’ career at la Maison for revolutionizing the rules, a brand such as Dior has only room for improvement, and Simons managed to permanently elevate the house to the next level.