While Hedi Slimane moves Yves Saint Laurent’s RTW line away from its past to be successful, Raf Simons works within Dior’s heritage for success out of making the old new again.
Sidney Taledano, president and CEO of Dior, stated that in a post-Galiano world it was important for the brand to find someone who “cares about someone else”. That they needed a designer who had the charisma to lead without being high-handed. “There are many designers with talent,” Toledano notes, “but Raf has a kind of maturity and knows how to engage in dialogue. At the end of the day, he has to make decisions on the look, but how you explain decisions is important. He has a very strong point of view, but he doesn’t have a diva attitude.”
The first collections from Raf Simons were obvious nods to Dior’s archives with his take on the Bar jacket and the New Look full skirts. However, in each subsequent collection Simone strays away from the overt Dior reference and gives way to his own flare. His latest collection’s intention is “the invention of a new species,” a fashionable woman that’s less frou frou than days of Dior old. There were nods to the past with a certain amount of embellishment, the bubble silhouette, or the “buttoned motif of the Bar jacket”. The runway standouts were clean silhouettes infused with psychedelic-colored animal print and (soon to be “It”) patent leather boots in vary lengths and colors with tinted Lucite heels.
During Raf Simon’s tenure at Dior, the sales figures of his creations have been “robust”, with profits up 13.4% in the first half of last year and on the couture end of business increasing by 14% each year. This marriage of critical and commercial success has propelled Raf Simons into superstar status, which will be clinched when the documentary, Dior and I, about his time at the house will be released at the end of the month. More on that in the next post…
What makes all this a little exciting for me, is that Dior will be showing it’s cruise collection in Los Angeles on May 9th, which comes on the heels of Tom Ford showing his Fall 2015 line in February. After years of Los Angeles being maligned by the fashion crowd, it’s exciting to see designers, magazines and luxury brands beginning to turn a favorable gaze toward the west coast.