Fashion news is consumed and digested so rapidly that what was last night’s meal doesn’t even make it as tomorrow’s leftovers. So, forgive us when we admit up front that we’re still not over Raf Simons’ abrupt departure from Dior. Even though the news hit the circuit six days ago, we’re still mourning the loss. Part of the reason is the purity and sincerity with which Simons upheld the vision of the brand’s original mainstays, like his modern spin on the ‘Bar’ jacket and ‘New Look’ silhouette, which he updated with awning stripes, cut-away framing, surprise pleating, and turban-like folds. His clothes were cleverly crafted and original, although never too far off the map laid out by Dior himself. Simons’ respect for brand history could also be felt in tender homages to Villa Les Rhumbs, Dior’s childhood home in Granville, Normandy, and other brand signatures, like the garden.
Additionally, his lavish, audacious sets were as beautiful as his collections (especially for Spring/Summer 2014 and Spring/Summer 2016), and his engagement with the art world invigorated his work at the brand as well. For example, the documentary Dior and I revealed how Simons turned the artist Sterling Ruby’s art into couture for Spring 2012, while his Fall/Winter 2015 couture collection was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch. Under his watchful care, Dior also sponsored the Guggenheim’s annual gala this year.
Simons took Dior beyond the comfort zone of Paris, showing in Tokyo for Pre-Fall 2015, Brooklyn for Cruise 2015, and Pierre Cardin’s amazing bubble house in the South of France for Cruise 2016. He defied expectations again by casting Rihanna as the star of Dior’s ‘Secret Garden’ campaign, making her the first African American spokesperson for the brand.
Simons’ work impressed upon the mind and enlivened the imagination, to the extent that his were the most anticipated shows of Fashion Month. His presence at the storied maison will be sorely missed in February.
Click through the gallery to remember Simons’ best runway moments for Dior, from past to present.