“Don’t hold your breath awaiting an announcement of Dior’s next couturier,” WWD’s Miles Socha wrote today. “The existing in-house studio is to design the spring 2016 couture collection, to be unveiled on the runway in January, and the fall 2016 ready-to-wear range, to be paraded in March, a Dior spokesman confirmed to WWD on Wednesday.” Yes, the Paris-based design house, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton chairman Bernard Arnault, is taking its time in naming a successor for Raf Simons, who chose not to renew his contract this past fall, citing a wish to “focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside my work.”
The move on Dior’s part is hardly surprising. With Dior being Arnault’s most prized holding, the search for a creative director will likely be a time-consuming one. You may recall that upon John Galliano’s ouster from the famed couture house in February 2011, a successor was not named for over a year. Arnault, who holds control of Dior outside of the umbrella of LVMH, is said to have spent much of that year searching for a replacement, ultimately announcing Simons’s appointment in April of 2012.
The house’s confirmation that it will not appoint a successor for Simons until well into next year allows for quite a bit of speculation as to who that person will be. While we know that Céline's Phoebe Philo and Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci have been pinned as likely candidates, the new announcement suggests that they may not be on the top of the list. Philo and Tisci, who are certainly locked into roughly 1-year non-compete agreements with their respective brands, would likely be able to start at Dior much sooner - if not, immediately - given the fact that Arnault owns all three brands and as a result, the non-competes could be revoked. (Non-compete agreements are put in place to prevent the spread of confidential business and creative information to a brand’s competitors).
The recently announced timeline suggests that the house may be looking outside of the LVMH group for a new creative director – potentially to Alber Elbaz, who recently left Lanvin, for whom a non-compete agreement is still very much in tact. Other names that have come up include Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, Marc Jacobs (whose brand is owned by LVMH), Jonathan Anderson (who helms LVMH-owned brand Loewe), and Nicolas Ghesquière (creative director of Louis Vuitton), among others.
As for whether Dior has a pattern of looking inside its sister conglomerate of LVMH or to the industry at large, the two most recent appointments are not of much help. Just prior to his appointment at Dior, Raf Simons was dismissed from the helm of German label Jil Sander, when its namesake founder returned to the helm. Prior to his appointment at Dior, John Galliano was serving as the creative director of Givenchy, an LVMH-owned brand.