Raf Simons is to part ways with Christian Dior, ending a fruitful 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 Oct. 2 was his last.
Simons’ successor at Dior has yet to be identified and a search is to be conducted, according to informed industry sources. They describe the separation as amicable on both sides after the designer and the company failed to reach an agreement on a new employment contract.
The separation announcement, issued after the close of trading on the Paris Bourse, is sure to send shock waves through the industry. It could also trigger another round of musical chairs at the highest levels of international fashion.
“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,” Simons, 47, said in a statement. “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 an immense 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.”
For their part, 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.”
None of the three men commented beyond the one-page statement.
This marks the second surprise designer exit at Dior in recent years, following the 2011 expulsion of John Galliano after his anti-Semitic outbursts at a Paris café, for which he was convicted of public insult.