The news that have me reevaluate my whole faith in fashion. Raf Simons is and will be the ultimate creative; for breathing new life and spirit into a brand that was retreating into the shadows of its own history.
I remember British Vogue’s Alexandra Shulman's words only weeks before the commencement of London Fashion Week, during her talk at the Apple Store in support of Fashion’s Night Out. “I feel very strongly that the amount of fashion shows that we have are ridiculous. I can’t believe in this day and age where we’re aware of the environmental damage that air travel does, where we know that we can see.. The whole digital world has made that fashion shows can come to you. Where actually, there’s so much to be done, so much to be seen; that we’re expecting 500 physical bodies to go around 4 fashion capitals, spending a week in each, it seems insane to me”. Which at the time made me think of Shulman as a lazy and unthankful insider, one who grew up within the industry and simply took this amazing privilege for granted. But the truth is, that simply couldn’t be further from the truth. If you think about the situation objectively as one must do, it is in fact absurd what we ask of fashion and what we, its humble, eager followers can do or put up with to keep up or fit in. Is it normal? It simply couldn’t be, but everyone knows it; Couture in January and July, Cruise in May, March and September are Ready-to-Wear and November’s Resort.
It’s a hectic, inhuman schedule, too much to ask of anyone, let alone an individual like Simons, a creative with many more artistic pursuits that go beyond designing fashion. And he did very well for a while, careful in his balancing act of juggling his designer career between his own label and the demanding, yet much coveted creative director position at Maison Christian Dior. It is a miracle that the ever-so-grounded Simons had the strength to say “no” where others lost control. Raf, he’d surely be pleased I call him that, was always so outspoken about the pressures that came with the job. Others before him; inevitably one’s thoughts go to the late and great Alexander McQueen, have internalised the very same pressure to the point where it drove them to the brink and beyond. How much is it the world and the way in itself it’s so quick to normalise those absurd demands that raise a person from human to creative God?
The question on everyone’s lips is, of course, why? This exclusive circle of people, so engulfed in their Chinese whispers, want to know the dirty gossip, did Toledano and Arnault not authorise Simons’ financial demands? Could this be about money? Is it creative differences? Could they disagree on a concept? But perhaps it is actually nothing at all, but the fact that Simons asa personality is a pragmatist who would like to give himself more free time for the things that really mattered to him, above all the development of his own personal menswear line.
There’s a moment in “Dior et Moi” — the documentary that follows Simons, as he prepares for his first collection as the brand’s creative director, where his right-hand man, Peter Mulier, points out that the House of Dior only had its creator for 10 years and concludes that they must have been revolutionary for the house to have become so iconic. Likewise, Raf’s reign at Dior will be remember fondly for all the things that he achieved; for one he took the brand back to its roots in spirit rather than form. He spoke to a woman who seeks adventure, whose soul is playful and roams free. He delivered elegance, and sophistication combined with entirely juxtaposing concepts, like daring Sterling Ruby “gangster Rothko” prints in a way that was artful, refined; as is the way that he carries himself.
Image Courtesy of Vogue.Com
Text by Joanna Theodorou