On Thursday, LVMH announced that Raf Simons will exit Dior after three-and-a-half years as the critically acclaimed creative director of the French fashion house. According to a statement issued to WWD, the 47-year-old designer "reached this decision for personal reasons," and the spring 2016 collection he presented on Oct. 2 will stand as his last for the iconic brand. A search for Simons's successor is underway.
Dior issued a statement from Simons to multiple outlets, though declined to share it with Fashionista:
"It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as Creative Director of Christian Dior Couture Women's collection. It is a decision, based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside of my work. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been an immense privilege to be allowed to write a few pages of this magnificent book. I want to thank M. Bernard Arnault for the trust he has put in me, giving me the incredible opportunity to work at this beautiful house surrounded by the most amazing team one could ever dream of. I have also had the chance over the last few years to benefit from the leadership of Sidney Toledano. His thoughtful, heartfelt and inspired management will also remain as one of the most important experiences of my professional career."
In a lengthy piece, The Cut's critic-at-large Cathy Horyn suggested Simons "will likely focus on his avant-garde men's label, based in Antwerp," though a noncompete agreement with Dior may keep Simons from moving to another house for up to a year. Horyn suggests that Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci and Céline's Phoebe Philo could both serve as potential replacements, though neither, she mentions, seem to be as logical and seamless a fit for the Parisian label as Simons was.
This year was undoubtedly one of change, with a myriad of executive-level role changes repeatedly taking place in the design world. Alexander Wang did not renew his contract with Balenciaga; Donna Karan left her role as chief designer of Donna Karan International; Ralph Lauren stepped down as CEO of his company; Gucci appointed the largely unknown Alessandro Michele to replace Frida Giannini — and that's just getting started. But unlike the majority of 2015's earlier buzz, there was nary a rumor that Simons was to depart. What prompted his exit, we wonder? With six full collections to show a year, Horyn argues that Simons "was frustrated by the lack of time to create," plausible speculation that Vogue's Nicole Phelps echoes. She wrote: "Simons's abrupt departure will undoubtedly spark renewed talks about the difficulties of overseeing a brand of Dior's size and the almost inhuman demands of the current fashion cycle."
Simons joined Dior in early 2012, replacing John Galliano after he was unceremoniously dismissed from the house in October of 2011. Simons presented his first collection, couture, for Dior during Paris Couture Week in July of that year.
More to come.
This article was updated to include the statement from Dior, as well as the speculation surrounding Simons's departure.