23 October 2015

Why Raf Simons is Leaving Dior: Creativity v.s. Commerce

Sadly, the rumours during Paris Fashion have turned out to be true.
Raf Simons, after a short three years at the helm of the monstrous label, is leaving Dior.

Personally, I find this truly upsetting. I have loved what Raf has created while at Dior, and I applaud the direction he has steered the label in. I found his influence key in defining the gap between Dior and, rival powerhouse, Chanel.
His almost germanic vision has redefined everything from the aesthetic down to the silhouette of Dior. As I have said in a previous article where I examine his SS15 collection; I believe Raf has redefined the modern Dior woman.

Image Source: Raf Simons
"The juxtaposition of man and woman, Dior then and Dior now, fashion in the past and future, all culminate to represent Raf Simons' vision of the Modern Dior Woman" - Read the article here

The biggest tragedy of all is Raf was just falling into his stride; it quite literally takes designers years to gain that confidence and rhythm to really be in a comfortable enough position to start pushing limits. Galliano's first collections with Dior were certainly weren't anything compared to his later work.

So why is Raf leaving?

Firstly: if this topic interests you, and you haven't seen the film 'Dior and I' by Frédéric Tcheng1, you should. Because those of us who have seen the documentary, will have seen a glimpse into the pressure factory that titanic labels like Dior- have become.
In the wonderfully raw film, the exclusive twinkling glamorous wall that divides the public and the fashion world is taken down. You witness the blood, sweat and tears that make up the backbone of this, otherwise pristine industry. Raf Simons' breakdown before presenting his show is a beautiful insight into real life.

The pressure is insurmountable; which brings up Shinkle'stheory of "Creativity versus Commerce". Imagine having the duty of designing to perfection, a mens and womens' collection, up to 8 times a year: while being loyal to a pre-existing set of parameters in accordance to the brand heritage, while keeping in mind consumers wants/needs as well as finance.
All the while you are expected to be 'creative'?
There is a fine line to walk of too much and none at all.
Frankly, any original, pre-existing joy inspired creativity is molested into something to feed the hungry machine of capitalism.

Being the creative director of a brand is perhaps one of the hardest jobs in the entire world.
Which leaves us with the question of, why didn't he leave sooner?

Creatives are not business men or politicians; Alexandre McQueen was such a private person; I have heard he used to sit in clubs in the corner of the room speaking to no one.
When I wen't to see John Galliano speak at the Vogue Festival, he came across as one of the most soft spoken, gentle men I have ever come across.

I am sad Raf is leaving. I liked how he shaped Dior, and I believe he has left big shoes to fill.
But then again, I love Raf as a designer: and I believe that it pained him to be unable to be creative for himself, not have it squeezed out of him like caviar.

The fashion industry is split into two kinds of people: the creatives and the instigators. You do not come across someone who is both.
We need each other; and the expectations for a creative director shouldn't be for him to be a spokesperson, PR, politician, finance director etc.
That's what we, the instigators are here for.

I hope that he finds the peace that he is looking for, and I hope that the next creative director of Dior can live up to Raf's reputation.

After all; we want Creativity and not Commerce... right?

1: Tcheng, Dior and I, 2014
2: Shinkle, Fashion as Photograph, 2008