Last October, after three and a half years as the creative director of Dior, Raf Simons had enough and announced his resignation. He cited “personal reasons” for his exit, apparently frustrated with the increasing pace of fashion and expectations from above.
His decision to leave Dior has allowed him to devote more time to his own label and other projects, like his collaborations with Fred Perry and Adidas, as well as his collaboration with the Danish textile brand Kvadrat. In an interview with the UK paper The Telegraph, Simons — who worked in furniture design before launching his men’s label — spoke about his latest textile collection, his time at Dior, and his thoughts on the current fashion system…
“[Kvadrat’s] DNA is very attractive to me. I was already working with its fabrics in my fashion collections so the relationship has evolved organically over time. I actually started this just before Dior but it didn’t see the daylight until much later because we took more than a year for the first development. There’s no hurry. It’s very different to how things work in fashion right now. Of course everybody’s happy if it’s successful, but not once [has Kvadrat] ever said to me, ‘this is our expectation’. Never. They believe in me, I believe in them and it’s a marriage.”
“Having the timeline of a year is like heaven for me because at Christian Dior I used to do eight collections a year and each collection could contain up to 150 fabrics. I’ve done three fabrics this year for Kvadrat and I really, really pay attention to it. It’s beautiful to be able to give a project substantial incubation time. When I did fabrics at Dior I had to choose them within a couple of hours sometimes—seeing everything, deciding, making colour palettes… then hoopla—launch.”
“These days it’s a different way of consuming [culture]. It’s now looking and then swiping to the next thing — looking, next; looking, next; looking, next; next, next, next, next — there’s less dialogue and engagement with it in general. [In my youth] there weren’t that many things reaching us, so that when we picked up on something, we went in-depth. We would investigate, we’d follow, try to understand… whether we liked it or hated it we would still have a conversation about it.”
“[Dior] is a very beautiful house and it was incredible to be able to take part in that heritage, but in the end it was just too much for me. Do I think now it was a mistake to go there? No, no. It was a fantastic experience and a fantastic time. I wasn’t planning to go there for such a short period, but I was also not willing to sign up there for a long period. So it became complicated and I decided to get out. That is partly due to the system that fashion has adopted. It is speeding up and up. Every season I see so many things evolving at such a speed that I think certain creative people, including myself, are just not willing to do it any more. I don’t want to. If you work on that level, you miss out on a lot of things.”
“Everyone is paying attention to the wrong thing in my opinion. There’s this huge debate about ‘Oh my God, should we sell the garments the day after the show or three days after the show or should we tweet it in this way or Instagram it in that way?’… You know, all that kind of bullshit. Will all that stuff still be relevant 30 years from now? I don’t think so…My generation especially is shifting now, like me and Phoebe [Philo], Nicolas [Ghesquière] and Marc [Jacobs]. We’ve been around for 20 or more years. We know what fashion was and where it’s heading to. Now it’s a question of what we are willing to do and how we are going to do it.”