Ever since Raf Simons was appointed creative director of Dior back in April, comparisons between him and newly-appointed YSL designer Hedi Slimane have run rampant. And as Slimane and Simons prepare to show their first ready-to-wear collections for YSL and Dior, respectively,
Slimane pursued both fashion design and photography at a young age, but went to school for Art History at the Ecole du Louvre. After four years designing menswear for Yves Saint Laurent (where he was hired by Pierre Bergé), he left to become creative director at Dior Homme in 2000, where his designs earned him a CFDA for International Design--the first ever given for menswear. He left Dior Homme in 2007 and has been pursuing a photography career in Los Angeles up until his appointment at YSL in March.
Simons interned with Walter Van Beirendonck and studied industrial design and furniture design. He launched an eponymous menswear line in 1995 which he presents in Paris, but designs from Antwerp, Belgium. Like Slimane, he quit fashion for a bit in 2000 due to feeling constrained by its business side, but relaunched in 2001 after a new deal with a different manufacturer. In 2005, he launched a diffusion menswear line, Raf, and was appointed creative director at Jil Sander--a position he held until this February, when he was ousted so that Sander could return to her eponymous label. He was appointed creative director at Dior in April.
Both designers are credited with ushering in a new menswear aesthetic with slimmer silhouettes and modern, minimalist proportions--Simons at his eponymous line and Slimane first at YSL, but most notably at Dior Homme. Both have a rebellious nature and find inspiration in youth culture and have attracted cult followings. They've also both always had a strong focus on tailoring.
Both Slimane and Simons are taking the reins at legendary fashion houses.
At Yves Saint Laurent, Slimane succeeds Stefano Pilati, a fashion rebel who designed a slew of lucrative must-have accessories but was unable to make ready-to-wear profitable. Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent's business and romantic partner and founder of the Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent, has been infamously critical of past creative directors like Pilati and Tom Ford, but has been
At Dior, Simons succeeds John Galliano, who, well, you know the story; and, technically, Bill Gaytten, whose interim collections for Dior were met with good sales and lukewarm reviews. Dior is among the oldest and most iconic couture houses and has always been associated with a romantic, decorative aesthetic; while Simons has always been considered a fashion purist and minimalist. His
While he's yet to present a collection (to the public), Slimane has already given us a thorough preview of what's to come branding-wise with a
High. So high that WWD reports that other Paris designers are jealous and/or worried by all the attention Slimane and Simons are getting. The designers are expected to collectively usher in a new era of fashion--one of cool minimalism and wearability. The
Hedi Slimane: David Bowie, Karl Lagerfeld, Brad Pitt, Nicole Kidman, countless musicians
Raf Simons: Cathy Horyn, Ellen Degeneres, Ashley Olsen, Tilda Swinton, Kate Bosworth