The assumption regarding Raf Simons’ exit from Jil Sander is that he’s headed to Dior. Sounds logical and tidy, but here’s what we’re hearing. Dior initiated contact and negotiations were moving along swimmingly, aided by the fact that the Belgian designer felt his time at Jil Sander had reached its natural and amicable end. In fact the two parties were close to an agreement until the last round of negotiations, when, according to our source, Simons asked for too high a salary. Consequently, Dior CEO Sidney Toledano halted discussions and signed Bill Gaytten on for six more seasons.
Even if negotiations hadn’t stalled, we’re told, another obstacle would have been LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, who, inexplicably, isn’t sold on the idea of Simons at Dior. One possible explanation holds that he prefers Brits, which would support the now-dismissed Christopher Kane theory. Another explanation is that he thinks Simons’ style is too dry and cerebral for Dior’s clients, particularly its opulent-minded couture clientele. But while it’s true he has no official couture experience, it’s also true that couturiers need only provide a vision, with which the couture studio can handily craft a collection.
If correct, the above must be disappointing for Simons (and us), whose eponymous line would have benefitted greatly from an LVMH infusion. We also hear he won’t likely introduce womenswear into his namesake line, as has been the groupthink, which means he’ll probably return to menswear only—and that’s that. Personally, we believe he would have made a brilliant creative director at Dior, tangoing the house into the modern era with skill, artistry and finesse. Plus, with him, there’s no chance of a scandal—sex, drug, Nazi-related or otherwise.
Update, 3/2/12, 4:51 pm:
In response to this story, Raf Simons’s representative issued the following statement: “Mr. Simons has never discussed any sort of financial arrangement with Dior executives. Such conversations as described in this post have not occurred. Any claim otherwise is a baseless and ridiculous rumor.”