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First Glimpse of Raf Simons' Dior View

Designer responds to industry speculation about what his point of view means for fashion house.

RAF’S DIOR VIEW: What’s a minimalist going to do at Christian Dior? That’s a question Raf Simons has heard plenty since Monday, when the French fashion house appointed him its new couturier. “I don’t think it’s wrong to call me a minimalist. It’s wrong to call me a minimalist only,” noted the Belgian designer, who had been the creative director of Jil Sander in Milan since 2005. “I am also a romantic person.”

Indeed, if “purism” was the guiding light and primary inspiration for Simons at Jil Sander, it will be “femininity” at the house of Dior, “because it’s beautiful, endless and permanent,” he said. “When I’m married to a house, I will fully embrace its original intention, its original heritage and meaning.

“I’m interested in creativity, the evolution of creativity and the relationship between creativity and the times we live in,” continued Simons, who was to arrive in Paris today to start work on his first Dior collection — the winter couture he is to show in July.

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He declined to give any precise indication of what he’s plotting, but elaborated on his affinity for the French house and its founder — up to and including a penchant for plant life and the outdoors. “Even if I travel to Los Angeles, you will always see me going to the hills, to the ocean or to Palm Springs,” he said, listing orchids, tulips and roses among his favorite blooms.

Simons lauded Dior, who died in 1957 only a decade after founding his Paris couture house, for producing such an impressive “body of work” in such a short time span. “The shape evolution was constant, it was very revolutionary,” he said. “The impact was immediate.”

What’s more, Dior’s heyday falls smack in the midcentury period with which Simons has always held a strong affinity. The designer relates to the optimism for the future in the postwar era, which was reflected in design, including the then-radical full-skirted New Look that Dior pioneered.

“I wouldn’t go to that place if I only had minimalism in mind,” he said. “I’m very aware of what the environment is about.”