A three-and-a-half year collaboration that saw the fabled French house tilt in a more modernist direction. Dior said the designer "reached this decision for personal reasons" and that the spring-summer 2016 collection he presented under a flower-festooned hillock in a courtyard of the Louvre on October 2 was his last footprinted with the legacy of Dior.
Simons' successor at Dior has yet to be identified and a search is to be conducted, according to informed industry sources. The description of this separation as both sides are failed to reach an agreement on a new employment contract.
The announcement issued after the close of trading on the Paris Bourse, is sure to send shock waves through industry. The musical chairs is once again running another round at the highest levels of international fashion.
Simons, 47, said, "It is after careful and long consideration that I have decided to leave my position as creative director of Christian Dior's 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 my work. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been animmense privilege to write a few pages of this magnificent book. I want to thank Mr. 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.”
On the other side of the story, Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior SA, and Toledano, ceo of Christian Dior Couture, said they “acknowledge Raf Simons’ decision and very warmly thank him for his exceptional contribution to the house.”
Not a surprise as how we could basically guess from the separation, none of the three men commented beyond the one-page statement.
Dior rebounded unscathed from that shock and would go on to post strong sales growth in the post-Galliano period, with his second-in-command Bill Gaytten taking the reins and turning the brand into ladylike, Fifties-inflected elegance until Simons was recruited in April 2012. (Galliano went on to become creative director of Maison Margiela in 2014.)
It is understand that creative scope in a sprawling and complex organization, along with Simon's wish to have a more balanced personal life, were among the divisive issues, rather than any acrimonious event or haggling over compensation. Sources said talks recently reached a stalemate, with “sadness” on both sides that a compromise could not be reached.
Simons will continue his own fashion house specializing in menswear and he is expected to continue showing that collection in Paris.
Given his strong footprint recorded at Dior, the company citing growth in sales of women's ready-to-wear and illustrious seve-year stint at the helm of Jil Sander in Milan, Simons is surely providing the highest quality of design services.
Simons' exit will surely spark a fierce guessing game about who might next for the most prestigious fashion posts in Europe, arguably only second in prestige to Chanel, the biggest couture house in Paris.