With the Dior/Marc Jacobs deal seemingly dead in the water, we've been waiting to hear who the next designer on the list would be. Well, it seems that Dior has been heavily courting Raf Simons, the creative of director of Jil Sander. This isn't the first time a big name French house has tried to snag the critically-acclaimed Belgian designer: Remember the pretty convincing rumors about Simons decamping to Yves Saint Laurent to replace the beleaguered Stefano Pilati? That ended up going nowhere, with Simons' four year Jil Sander contract being cited as a reason that he couldn't possibly be moving to YSL.
While obviously nothing is certain, WWD is reporting that Dior and Simons are "close" to a deal. A supposed sticking point is still that pesky Jil Sander contract. The timing is also an issue, because the couture collections will show in January--obviously a new designer wouldn't have time to properly show a collection with that time frame.
Is Raf Simons a good fit for Dior? Without question he's got the talent and his last two Jil Sander collections were widely praised for their couture shapes, techniques and detailing. While it's easy to focus on Simons' decidedly minimalist design aesthetic as grounds for a misfit with Dior's sumptuous ladylike look (he has an architecture background), his last few collections have referenced Fifties couture, which has always been Dior's wheelhouse. This morning Cathy Horyn points out in the NY Times that "Dior is much more than the crinoline narratives that its former designer, John Galliano, adored." While he tried to go in a more tailored direction in recent years--partially at the direction of LVMH--Horyn noted Galliano's attempts felt stale compared to what competing big houses like Prada and Chanel were doing with RTW. Raf Simons would be able to maintain some of that Dior DNA while almost certainly moving the house in a sleeker and more modern direction.
Thoughts on this latest development? We think Dior-watching has become our favorite spectator sport.