Raf Simons on Dior: It Was "Very Complicated"

Raf Simons has spoken out again regarding his seemingly abrupt decision to leave Christian Dior after a three and a half-year tenure. He told System Magazine recently:

The more visible your position, the more you have to be careful. Having my own brand is different from when I was at Dior; people are not so focused on it. But at that time, I felt like there was all this pressure on how to behave and how not to behave, or how to speak. Not that I was given a list of rules; it just automatically happens like that. I found it very complicated, and [because of that] I started to read less and less about fashion, even though I’m usually really interested in what other people have to say.

This is not the first time we have heard of Simons's potential qualms with the famed couture house, namely in connection with the size of the house and his inability to devote the time he'd like to the house's collections. "The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time. And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking," he told Cathy Horyn in an interview just prior to his departure from Dior.

When asked whether he had enough time to oversee all six collections that Dior shows on the womenswear side of things, he told Horyn: "Technically, yes—the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important. When you try an idea, you look at it and think, Hmm, let’s put it away for a week and think about it later. But that’s never possible when you have only one team working on all the collections." He continued: "In this system, Pieter [Mulier, Simons’ right hand] and I can’t sit together and brainstorm—no time. I have a schedule every day that begins at 10 in the morning and runs through the day, and every, every minute is filled."

Horyn, herself, unpacked his decision to leave Dior for New York Magazine's The Cut blog shortly thereafter writing: 

Despite Dior’s unlimited artistry and a great deal of freedom to reinvent its fashion, Simons’s creative control didn’t extend everywhere, and that may have gnawed at him, too. Some areas, like store design, were out of his hands. There has long been a slight disconnect between Dior’s runway image and the image of the brand presented in, say, its celebrity perfume ads — a gap that was actually wider and weirder in the early Galliano years. Philo, by contrast, seems to have a lot of say in Céline’s overall image — from advertising to the intimate scale of her shows to the cool elegance of the company’s new Paris showrooms. But Dior is a much larger, more complex business — the pride of Arnault, a virtual fiefdom on Avenue Montaigne — and it seems unlikely that one individual, however willing and admired, would ever be given too much power.

So perhaps, after three and a half years at Dior, Simons felt it was not the best place for him. Does walking away from one of the great Paris houses amount to a rejection of the model of the past 20 years — the big-show, high-profile luxury brand? No, that would be an exaggeration. But it does suggest that the even-tempered Simons is seeking a better sense of proportion — fewer shows, more time to create — and with it, greater control and personal satisfaction.

Simons is slated to make his debut for Calvin Klein - where he will oversee the newly united menswear and womenswear departments - during the Fall/Winter 2017 show season in February.