Raf Simons Exiting Christian Dior

RafSimons The Fashion world will be driven to distraction for at least the next few weeks trying to predict who will be tapped to fill its most prominent vacancy now that Raf Simons has announced that he is leaving his post as creative director for Christian Dior. In a surprise move, Simons chose not to renew his contract by all reports for personal reasons despite Dior management's efforts to negotiate a deal for him to stay. While his reasons may be clarified in days to come, he wouldn't be the first designer to feel overburdened by the six collections he was responsible for there as couturier and women's prêt-à-porter designer along with his responsibilities at his own Belgian-based menswear label where he originally made his name in the 1990s.
Expect the same names to be bandied about as the last time a prominent vacancy emerged, but speculators should keep in mind that some of the most qualified candidates —Nicolas Ghesquière, Riccardo Tisci, Phoebe Philo etc.— are already ensconced as fashion labels which, like Dior, are controlled  by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault. It is unlikely that they would be moved while the companies where they are currently employed are doing too well for their progress to be disrupted.
The job will have to be filled soon. Any new appointment will have to have a Dior Haute Couture collection for Spring 2016 ready to be shown in January, so let the speculations fly.


John Galliano Dresses Down As His Mea Culpa Tour Hits Full Swing

GallianocharlieroseYou may have already read the big Vanity Fair interview, but now disgraced couturier John Galliano has done his big TV interview about the highly public breakdown that got him booted from his job as creative director at both Christian Dior and the label that bears his own name. In the absence of Oprah's vast platform, Galliano taped an interview with Charlie Rose which aired last night on PBS stations. You could be forgiven for missing it, as the entire taping and airing happened within a couple of days, but along with clips on YouTube, the entire show is steaming on Rose's website HERE.

Galliano rehashes much of what he went over with Ingrid Sischy in Vanity Fair, but the most striking aspect may be that, for the first time in the decades since he has become a well-known designer, he made a public appearance unencumbered by the flamboyant personal style that helped to make him an unmistakable figure in the fashion world. He was sober, not only physically, but sartorially as well. Gone were the hair extensions, the sculpted facial hair and elaborately embellished garments he is known for wearing. Galliano sat clean shaved, with his hair tidily pulled back in a low ponytail and wearing the most mundane navy blue jacket and simple light blue dress shirt without so much as a pocket square to recall his usual flair. If you ever wondered what this guy really looked like under all that costume, then here you are.  Is this the debut of a new, stripped down Galliano style? Maybe, but it is more likely that he is trying to make as favorable an impression as possible on the public at large not only in America, but worldwide, where this interview will inevitably be seen in one format or another. It's hard to imagine that he would give up his dramatic personal style permanently, but you can't blame him for wanting people to see him as a normal human being instead of the scarf-swathed weirdo who spewed drunken, hateful statements in the much circulated videos that led to his downfall —an excerpt of which Rose showed just in case anyone had missed them the first time around. 

Will it all work? In transforming his appearance, Galliano seems to be signalling that he will go well out of his way to show that he is not some fashion feak, but a real person who is capable of personal growth. While many Jewish leaders have emphasized an obligation to accept sincere apologies and efforts to improve oneself, others have been less forgiving, and students at Parsons School of Design recently made it clear that he was not welcome there to teach a master class similar to one that had been well received at Central St. Martins College of Art & design in London. The designer seems ready to get back to work, but ultimately it will be up to the retailers who will carry the products he will eventually offer and their customers to decide if they are ready to have him back.

John Galliano Interview (The Charlie Rose Show)

After the jump, see John Galliano apologize again

Continue reading "ALL APOLOGIES:

John Galliano Dresses Down As His Mea Culpa Tour Hits Full Swing" »


Dior Homme Stays Put In SoHo

A couple of months ago, The Shophound speculated that the Dior Homme Temporary Store on Greene Street in SoHo was more than just a substitute space to replace the main location while it underwent renovations. After all, it doesn't make much sense to redirect customers some 60 blocks south just for a few months, now does it?

Turns out we were right. The 57th Street Dior Homme flagship reopens this week, and WWD reports that the SoHo store will remain open indefinitely, or at least until 2021 when its lease comes up for renewal. That pretty much qualifies as permanent, these days. Now it will be in place to go head to head with the upcoming Saint Laurent boutique on Mercer Street when it opens next year reflecting that brand's revamp under former Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane. Though the Saint Laurent shop will presumably be for men and women, we expect that there will a particularly high interest in next Spring's Saint Laurent men's collections because Slimane's early claim to fame was as that label's designer before he was squeezed out by Tom Ford and left to create the Dior Homme label. Do you think this rivalry is contrived? It goes back to way before Hedi Slimane's time when Yves Saint Laurent took over as couturier at Christian Dior after its namesake's untimely death, and was forced to leave the job to serve an ill-fated stint in the military. Saint Lauent was replaced with Marc Bohan, but successfully sued Dior and then started his own label.

With Slimane's back and forth relationship between Dior and Saint Laurent, the brand's revamping and new couturier Raf Simons taking over women's design at Dior the two houses are set up for a renewed rivalry. Stay tuned.

Dior Homme Reopens in NYC (WWD)
Summer Speculation: Why Is Dior Homme's Temporary Store All The Way Downtown In SoHo?


Why Is Dior Homme's Temporary Store
All The Way Downtown In SoHo?

The Shophound had been pretty slow to get to the Dior Homme temporary store in SoHo that will be in operation until the main store on 57th Street has been fully renovated in September. When we finally got there, we were immediately struck by how non-temporary the store looked, at least for SoHo, where exposed ductwork and open, unadulterated spaces are de rigeur. The store actually feels larger than the uptown version and offers the same, complete collection including a few items like jeans and some accessories that appear to date from the label's days with founding designer Hedi Slimane at the helm. What really bewildered us, however was why the temporary replacement for a midtown boutique would be located nearly 60 blocks south?

There's not a lot going on in during the dog days of Summer now that the Menswear and Couture shows are over, so it's a perfect time for random, baseless speculation. What is Dior up to in SoHo?

Typically, designer boutiques, especially in midtown, will open a temporary store during renovations that is nearby so shoppers can easily be redirected. Think of Apple's current temp store on Greene Street, or the 57th Street location just to the west of Bergdorf's that was once a bank and Fortunoff, but more recently has served as a temporary location for Chanel, Burberry, Ferragamo, Coach and a host of other midtown boutiques during their renovations. Why didn't Dior Homme decamp there instead of running the risk of sending its potential customers on a trip downtown that they may not care to take?

We are pretty sure that Dior is testing the waters downtown if not for a full Dior flagship, then possibly for a separate men's store, or for who knows what? Now that Raf Simons is Dior's women's designer, all sorts of new directions might be explored. You will remember that as creative director at Jil Sander, he placed the brand's new flagship on a quiet corner at Crosby and Howard streets after that label's 57th Street home was turned over to Miu Miu. The bold location switch signified Simon's point of view and personal preference, and while there's no chance that Dior's flagship will be moved from 57th Street's LVMH tower, We wouldn't be surprised to see Simons push for a downtown counterpart that better reflected his own sensibilities. His debut Couture line showed that he is clearly looking to forge a new creative path for the house. Here's some more baseless speculation: We are guessing that as soon as designer Kris Van Assche's contract at Dior Homme runs out that Simons will take over that label as well. After all, his initial success was in menswear, and  the change would unify creative direction for the entire brand under one person much like it is at LVMH sister brand Givenchy and other luxury labels like Gucci, Prada and Saint Laurent —yes, the newly retro-branded Saint Laurent which eventually will have a permanent home on Mercer Street sometime next year, and is coincidentally also undergoing something of a brand overhaul under the former Dior Homme designer Slimane, who has to be considered at least something of a rival.

So is that enough to ponder on a Summer Monday afternoon? Are we overthinking, or is Dior already way ahead of us?

Dior Homme Temporary Store 133 Greene Street between Prince and West Houston Streets, SoHo


Raf Simons Is In At Dior
...For Real This Time


Well, that settles that.

Just when nearly everyone had relegated the burning "Who will design Dior" question to the "Whatever. We'll find out when we find out" file, it was announced today that Belgian designer Raf Simons would immediately assume John Galliano's previous position as Couturier at Christian Dior. His first show will be the Haute Couture collection shown in July. That officially makes Simons artistic director of haute couture, women’s ready-to-wear and accessories collections. Simons will be Dior's sixth Couturier (that's in line behind M. Dior himself, Yves Saint Laurent, Marc Bohan, Gianfranco Ferré and the disgraced Galliano), and its second Belgian designer as, for now, Kris Van Assche will remain as designer for Dior Homme. It's something of an odd situation as Simons was an acclaimed menswear designer for years before trying his hand at Women's fashion at Jil Sander and will presumably continue producing the menswear line he has maintained under his own name. One wonders if at some point he might take over the men's collection for Dior as he designed both lines at Sander. It also sheds some new light on the situation behind Simons' departure from Jil Sander, which may now seem less like a firing in favor of a return of the namesake designer than a convenient opportunity for Mrs. Sander to return to her own label when the position suddenly became available. Is that how it happened? Who knows? Doesn't matter now.

To recap the now basically completed game of musical designers:

Raf Simons is now at Christian Dior.
Hedi Slimane is now at Yves Saint Laurent.
Stefano Pilati is currently unemployed.
Jil Sander is at Jil Sander.
Bill Gaytten is at John Galliano.
John Galliano is still in seclusion.
Kris Van Assche is probably feeling a little nervous at Dior Homme, but there's an opening at Simon Spurr.

That is all.

Dior Selects Raf Simons to Replace John Galliano by Cathy Horyn (NYTimes)
Dior Names Raf Simons Its Next Couturier by Miles Socha (WWD)

Dior Wtch: Raf Simons Exits Jil Sander Is Dior His Next Stop? (2.23.2012)



Raf Simons Exits Jil Sander
Is Dior His Next Stop?


The Cut and WWD have confirmed that Raf Simons will show his last collection for Jil Sander on Monday amid rumours that Jil Sander herself may once again rekindle the on-off relationship she has had with the label that bears her own name. His official successor is to be announced in a few days.

Naturally, the mind jumps to the possibility that Simons will take over the creative responsibilities for Christian Dior since he was breathlessly rumored to have been tapped for that position a few months ago, though he also turned out to be one in a long line of names that were supposedly all but confirmed for the job. At the time he was thought to be unavailable anyway, but now, Simons is pretty much the only person rumored for the job that is not tied to some other company (besides his own, of course). If that is the case then, yes, our long international nightmare of a designerless Dior will finally be over and we will all be able to sleep at night again. It also raises the question of whether Simons will also take over Dior Homme, a job for which he would be eminently qualified even more than for the women's side. This would push out Kris Van Assche, who has been well liked as the designer there, but has lacked the frisson that his founding predecessor Hedi Slimane was able to conjure, and Simons may be able to re-create.

Of course, Simons could be leaving Sander to focus all of his energies on his own label, and possibly launch his own women's line, which would not be an unreasonable possibility. We expect definitive answers soon.

Confirmed: Raf Simons to Leave Jil Sander (The Cut)
Raf Simons to Exit Jil Sander (WWD)


It's Raf Simons To Dior!
Maybe... Sort Of... Who Knows?

In the in the fashion industry's most elaborate game of crying wolf, WWD is essentially hollering from the rooftops that Raf Simons is thisclose to signing a deal to take over creative direction of Christian Dior, a supposedly coveted position left open after the ignominious firing of John Galliano after his disgraceful public meltdown last February.

That's great.
Of course, a couple of months ago, they were equally certain that Dior owner Bernard Arnault had worked out a scheme that would send Louis Vuitton designer Marc Jacobs over to Dior, replacing him with recently installed Céline designer Phoebe Philo, who would, in the least credible part of the scenario, handle duties for both labels, keeping everything in the Dior/LVMH family (Dior is not technically a part of LVMH, though the holding company Christian Dior S.A owns a 42% controlling stake in the conglomerate).

This , of course is in addition to the earlier, widely held assumption that Arnault was planning to transfer rising Givenchy couturier Riccardo Tisci to Dior as soon as he found someone to take over for him at the other Haute Couture maison.

Then there is the list of nearly every other designer of note who were said to be tapped for the job including Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton, who was unlikely to ditch the label she helped its late namesake to build, Balenciaga's Nicolas Ghesquiere and Lanvin's Alber Elbaz, who are both said to be tied to the houses they resurrected from oblivion with equity stakes, and even ulikely figures such as Alexander Wang, whose high-end contemporary line is red-hot but far from Haute Couture in quality, and Azzedine Alaïa, who us known for his disdain of the corporate fashion system if not for M. Arnault himself.

In the meantime, design duties at Dior have been handled by Bill Gaytten, Galliano's first assistant who has presented one poorly received Haute Couture collection over the summer, but more importantly some well recieved ready-to-wear collections, which, as we all know, is the moneymaking part of Dior's apparel business. Gaytten has been thrust into an uncomfortable and undignified position as the only designer forced to audition publicly for a job he is already doing. The real moneymaker there is the fragrance and cosmetics business, which will continue to pump out cash regardless of who is ultimately installed as creative director.

Will Simons sail into the Dior job after all this speculation? Your guess is as good as mine, since he is reportedly in the middle of an unspecified long-term contract with Jil Sander, whose fortunes he has steadied to much acclaim after much turmoil and changing of hands at the brand. Even if he does take the job, we won't see his first work for Dior until the Fall 2012 Haute Couture show next Summer, leaving Gaytten to produce another Couture and another Prêt-à-Porter collection as a lame duck designer. On the plus side, it's possible that Simons could take over design at Dior Homme (he's certainly qualified) which would suck for Kris Van Assche, but would unify all the brand's apparel under a single creative director.

Imagine how how Arnault could have avoided all this mess if he had simply taken a stronger managerial hand in controlling the highly public self-destructive behavior John Galliano had been exhibiting for months before it all blew up in everone's faces at the beginning of this year. Or maybe he likes all the breathless speculation and attention.

Oh well, hindsight...

Dior Said Closing In on Raf Simons Deal (WWD)


How Natalie Portman Got
John Galliano Fired From Dior

Well, really, John Galliano got himself fired from his position as Couturier at Christian Dior this week. And Natalie Portman may not have been directly calling for the designer's removal (she probably thought she would wind up dissolving her endorsement contract with the brand) but in a roundabout way, she did just that.

You wouldn't think that a celebrity under an endorsement contract would have had the power to dismiss a designer, particularly one as well entrenched in the house as Galliano, but while the newly minted Oscar winner probably knew she was risking a lucrative arrangement by condemning the designer's alleged (and videotaped) anti-semitic behavior yesterday, Dior executives surely saw her personal response as a precursor to the strong likelihood that its customers would turn on the brand, not to mention the many retailers all over the world upon whom Dior relies for distribution. We are guessing that the story got much stronger initial coverage in Europe, particularly in France, where brands like Dior hold a special place in the pride of its citizens (never mind Coco Chanel's well documented affair with a Nazi officer during WWII). Portman's involvement, however, will have brought much more attention to the case here in America, especially on the heels of her winning an Academy Award.

When we say "Dior's customers" we are not referring only to the wealthy few lucky enough be able to purchase the brand's precious Haute Couture, and costly Prêt-à-Porter, shoes and accessories or the actresses who are dressed by the house for award shows and public appearance. We are really talking about the millions of people all over the world who splurge on Dior fragrances and cosmetics. Portman was hired to represent the fragrance Miss Dior Chérie, and the commercials, which began running last week, were heavily featured during the Academy Awards broadcast. This would serve as a potent reminder that companies like Dior (and Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent, etc.) are, on the balance sheet, cosmetics companies with profitable side businesses in accessories and somewhat smaller clothing and couture divisions that may or may not be loss leaders depending on the company and the year.

It is sad to see someone so admired who has contributed so much to his industry go down in flames even of they are of his own making, but the fact is, the house of Christian Dior far more easily afford the loss of a celebrated designer than it can risk the goodwill of its clients and retail partners, even if it turns out that Galliano is not even charged and prosecuted by French authorities. The messiest part of the situation is that Dior controls the company that bears the designer's own name, and the resolution to that situation has yet to be announced, though the Galliano runway show for Fall 2011 is still scheduled for this Sunday in Paris.

Will the designer ever be forgiven? Who knows in these days of rapid media saturation? Chanel, certainly was forgiven ...eventually (or perhaps her memory is the happy beneficiary of a vast, collective, willful amnesia), and her reputed crimes were far more grave than John Galliano's. This incident may serve as notice to the many star designers working for corporate fashion houses that they should mind their business in public because they may be more disposable than they think.

Dior Ousts Galliano in Wake of Anti-Semitic Allegations (WWD)


Why Did Nicole Kidman Wear A Two-Year-Old Dior To The Oscars?

At this point, we all know the Oscars have become more of a fashion event than an awards show, and the red carpet arrivals are far more interesting than the show itself. There are a million people ranking who looked better than whom. We can't begin to enter that fray, and actually, nobody really looked terrible ...except for one person.

What happened to Nicole Kidman? Her white beaded Dior gown was ungainly and awkward looking, especially if you saw it from any angle other than straight on from the front. It was almost unianimously chosen by the innumerable fashion pundits as a major misstep. The strangest part of all: It was two years old! Kidman's dress was look #26 from the Spring 2009 Haute Couture Collection. Cate Blanchett's Givenchy and Michelle Williams' Chanel Couture dresses were both from the latest Spring 2011 collections (Looks #3 and #53 respectively, though Williams' was shown on the runway with an odd satin coat that the actress wisely discarded), and while host Anne Hathaway's white Givenchy was in fact from Fall 2009 Haute Couture (and, yes, it was shon as a wedding gown), she wore so many dresses, including new Tom Ford and Armani Privé, that it seems to matter less in her instance.

Designers and, more importantly, their public relations staffs are usually intensely careful about making sure their dresses are well represented at awards shows like the Oscars. It took only minutes after her performance for an email blast to go out notifying the world that Gwyneth Paltrow's onstage dress was right off the Michael Kors Fall 2011 collection runway. While we can attribute Kidman's (and her stylist's) choice as a matter of taste, we have to wonder why Dior would would have tossed a two-year-old gown to a major nominee often lauded as a fashion icon? It's not like anyone thinks she actually pulled it out of her own closet or anything like that. Especially considering the fact that Kidman herself was instrumental in promoting Dior designer John Galliano's first collection at the Oscars when she famously arrived in a green, chinese-style embroidered, mink-trimmed gown, wouldn't she have earned a bit more deference at this point? The house might not have seen this a blunder, but we can't see how it isn't. And, while they have bigger fish to fry at this very moment, wouldn't they have sent her some new dresses to choose from? Or at least some that looked better?


Dior & Prada Shops
Coming Soon To Bloomingdale's

Though the massive overhaul of Bloomingdale's main floor designer accessory boutiques is only about halfway finished, the store is boldly positioning itself to take on its biggest competitors once it is done. The most impressive change will be the addition of major Prada and Christian Dior boutiques as well as the just-opened Jimmy Choo shop to the already heady mix of handbags on the Lexington Avenue side of the floor. This puts Bloomingdale's on a better footing to compete with stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman whose limited distribution arrangements with most luxury brands left the East Side favorite out of the loop, until now. A big, expanded Chanel shop recently opened alongside newly refreshed spaces for Ferragamo, Marc Jacobs, Fendi and Chloé.

While there was a time when Bloomingdale's would have been first place a a hot brand would want to be seen, the store's prestige took a critical hit during the recession of the 1990s when management made a decision to trade down and de-emphasize its high end assortments. While the store hung on to sterling labels like Chanel and Giorgio Armani, it lost its place in the pecking order for emerging brands and missed out on much of the status "It" bag business as the century turned. It has been a long, hard fought battle to rebuild the store's snob appeal, and the store's ongoing renovations appears to have helped convince picky vendors like Prada and Dior that it has the proper environment for their labels. Sharp-eyed shoppers will have noticed that earlier in the year, cluttery counters were removed from the Lexington Avenue entrances, giving the floor a more genteel, elegant feeling while more aspirational labels like Burberrry, Longchamp and Coach got kicked half a flight upstairs to the cosmetics level. That leaves the lower section as pure luxury player that will ultimately be anchored by Prada at one end and Louis Vuitton at the other.

We are guessing that the new accessory shops will be completed sometime before the Holiday season, so we should see the reults of the overhaul in a few weeks. Settled firmly in the city's wealthiest zip code, Bloomingdale's should now have a lot more enticement to lure back the nearby customers who abandoned it for tonier options years ago.