As you've probably heard, the biggest fashion story of the past year got resolved yesterday when Christian Dior announced that Raf Simons would take over as artistic director of the house, succeeding John Galliano. The news comes only one month after former Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane was named creative director at Yves Saint Laurent. And according to more than one fashion reporter, this means that the two of them are bound to engage in a rivalry.
WWD's Miles Socha writes,
The appointment is also sure to ignite a fresh rivalry between Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, which just named Hedi Slimane its creative director. Slimane was the designer of Dior Homme from 2000 to 2007.
It also ramps up competition in the modernist fashion arena, given that Celine’s Phoebe Philo is another key actor on the Paris stage pushing a minimalist agenda — even as the fall collections seemed to point to a return to embellishment.
In the men’s wear arena, Mr. Simons and Mr. Slimane were seen as rivals. And they are likely to be so again as Mr. Simons expands into haute couture and Mr. Slimane takes on women’s fashion for the first time.
Suzy Menkes says,
The Dior appointment is being made as the designer Hedi Slimane, once a men’s wear rival of Mr. Simons’s, takes on the top job at Saint Laurent, the fashion house owned by PPR, a major LVMH rival.
Next season, when Mr. Simons pits his vision against Mr. Slimane’s, it will be one of those epic standoffs that fashion has seen many times before — not least when Christian Dior’s romantic elegance faced the lofty sculptures of Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Cue the epic fashion face-off! It's hard not to compare Simons and Slimane: both have designed highly-regarded, sleek, modern, minimalist menswear--Simons with his eponymous line and Slimane at Dior Homme. And now they find themselves at two of the biggest fashion houses in Paris under the two biggest French fashion conglomerates. And Philo, with her forward-thinking, minimal approach to women's ready to wear, definitely shares a fan base with Simons and Slimane.
Also worth noting, maybe: the similarity in the designers' own personal style. All of them are wearing black and white in the above photographs and I didn't even do that on purpose.
But are they rivals? They may have comparable aesthetics and two of them may work at competing companies but something tells me none of them are likely to get caught up in that sort of drama. Still, come September, I'm sure a lot of reviews will be filled with comparisons. And, given the influence of these three labels, modernity and minimalism are probably going to be big for spring 2013 all around.