Couture Controversy: Raf Simon Chosen for Dior
Photo Credits: 1) Unknown circa 1955; 2) Photographer Arthur Elgort and model Karlie Kloss for Vogue in 2012
I feel the need to explain my brief hiatus last week from the blogosphere. I had gone into a state of shock. Let me elaborate…
After John Galliano was removed from his position as Chief Creative Director for French haute couture (power)house Christian Dior in March 2011, the question on everyone’s mind was who was going to replace him. No one followed the search for his successor more closely than I did – unless it was Ms. Anna Wintour herself – as Vogue kept a constantly updated timeline of the search process.
For a solid year I have talked my friends’ ears off about the subject until whenever any mention of couture came up during casual conversation, they would find ways to purposefully and forcefully redirect the conversation. Without my friends to turn to, I became a regular curbside prophet, handing out pamphlets to passer-bys on the street while I mumbled incoherently to myself about whom I was placing my bets on to be Galliano’s successor.
Of course, I am kidding. But fashion followers around the world and I were anxious for a decision to be made. We would not get one for over a year. Yes, Dior’s decision was a long, arduous process which was sprinkled with plenty of drama. Rumor after rumor circulated and the list of possible successors was an impressive one – Riccardo Tisci, Haider Ackermann (Karl Lagerfeld’s own hand-picked successor), Erdem Moralioglu, Christopher Kane, and Marc Jacobs. I had my money on Marc Jacobs. I was all in.
So when the news broke last week that Raf Simon had been chosen, I was astonished… moments later I was confused. I had everything turned around. In fact, Lauren Milligan at Vogue and I were on the same wavelength – after Raf Simon departed (or was allegedly fired) from his position at Jil Sander, it seemed like Simon would take over at Vuitton when Jacobs moved to Dior. So why the confusion? Simon is often described as being a “minimalist.” Originally a menswear designer, Simon’s looks are often clean, simple, and modern. You may realize by now that none of these adjectives have ever been used to describe Dior.
I am neither ashamed to admit that I was wrong, nor am I sad that Jacobs did not accept the position. But, I would like to clarify why I thought what I did. First, Jacobs did one hell of a job at the Paris Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2012 in the name of Louis Vuitton. You are still unable to go to a store and buy a magazine that does not have at least one picture from the show featured in it. Tumblr is inundated with pictures of the models and the now-famous carousel. And everyone is still excitedly chatting about how fabulous Kate-the-Great looked while closing the show. I was convinced that this was his farewell to Vuitton. Secondly, Jacobs excels exceedingly in women’s fashion, as he has demonstrated, and Dior is a name synonymous with ultra-femininity.
Numerous, too, are the rumors now circulating as to why Jacobs did not accept the position, as most everyone is certain that there were indeed negotiations taking place during which Jacobs was extended an invitation to Dior. Perhaps Jacobs has been telling us the truth and he really is too happy at Louis Vuitton to leave. Or, perhaps there were breakdowns during the negotiations over what he would be paid. Or, perhaps the rumor Vogue covered that Jacobs insisted on bringing his staff with him from LV is what broke the deal. Whatever the reason, Jacobs did not sashay himself over to Dior.
Christian Dior once famously stated, “I have designed flower women.” Of course, he was referring to his designs of tiny bodices juxtaposed against large, full skirts with plenty of movement that have become a signature of the label. Dior is anything but minimalistic. Dior is decadence. Raf Simon has failed to produce anything that tells me he is capable of haute couture on this level. With his Dior debut scheduled for July, he has but only a short amount of time to do so.