Raf Simons

It never rains but it pours: just a week after the Burberry shake-up comes news that Jil Sander (left) is leaving her namesake label for the third – count’ em – time, for “personal reasons.” (The first two times she left because of strategic differences with the then-owner, Prada Group.) No replacement has been named, and the upcoming fall/winter collection will be designed by an in-house team. So what are we to make of this? Read more

Raf Simons for Christian Dior. Getty Images

Sometimes – often when a new designer takes the reins at a brand, thereby drawing attention to it – a style inexplicably takes off in a viral way, running rampant throughout the fashion world.

This happened after former YSL designer Stefano Pilati’s first collection for the house, when he introduced the high-waisted tulip skirt to widespread scepticism. By the next season, high-waisted tulip skirts were ubiquitous (remember that?), and judging by last week’s New York ready-to-wear shows, it seems like it is happening now with Christian Dior designer Raf Simons’s gown-over-cigarette-trousers style, introduced in his first couture show last July. Read more

Marc Jacobs. Getty images

The post I wrote about the fashionisation of life? Well, today comes the news that stubbly zeitgeist-channeller/designer Marc Jacobs is the 2013 creative director of Diet Coke. See what I mean?

Diet Coke’s gig is a year-long stint involving the redesign of some bottles and cans, and a commercial that seems to feature Jacobs mostly shirtless. Previously they worked with Karl Lagerfeld, who, post-2001-diet became famous for his love of Diet Coke (he drinks 10 cans a day), and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Marc says he drinks two to three cans a day, so the choice makes sense – though the Coke folks have missed the boat with buzzy new Dior designer Raf Simons, who told me he used to drink two big litre bottles of Coke Zero daily, but quit this January in fear of aspartame.

Anyway, the point is less that fashion has a thing for Diet Coke – what else would anyone expect, given the industry’s body image issues? – but rather that Coca Cola, the behemoth that is #3 on Forbes’ most powerful brands list, has sussed that having a fashion name design their bottles gives them a new reason to get consumers to buy. Read more

What’s up with YSL these days? Post-designer Hedi Slimane’s weird tweet rant at NYT critic Cathy Horyn, which came after her review of the on-line pictures of the show she wasn’t invited to (if you can follow the absurdity of that chain) the brand’s CEO has gotten in on the action. Yesterday YSL chief exec Paul Deneve wrote an “Open Letter” to WWD complaining about a story they wrote recently comparing Raf Simons’ Dior debut to Hedi Slimane’s at YSL. Mr Deneve didn’t think the WWD folks had been fair, he said, and they should stop trying to invent a rivalry that isn’t. At first glance, this seems like an executive kicking sand. But Machiavelli might have a different point of view. Read more

Enter the new era at Dior: new designer (Raf Simons), new show address (a hotel particulier on Avenue d’Iena instead of the Musée Rodin), new hair and makeup (simple, stripped-down) and new clothes. Kind of.

For his first show as a couturier, Raf Simons stuck to two primary silhouettes, both involving the classic New Look code: a slim cigarette pant under a moulded jacket or bustier that blossomed from the waist down into a full hip; and a strapless 1950s-style cocktail gown (yes, there were other bits: a day sheath and swing back coats, but these were the overwhelming shapes). Read more

How important is a creative director? This question has plagued the fashion and luxury world ever since Tom Ford walked away from Gucci in 2004, and has been as subject to trend as any dress.

From believing that star designers (designer, creative director, artistic director and chief creative officer all being synonyms) were crucial to the success of a brand, the pendulum of industry wisdom has swung in the opposite direction.

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After a year of rumour and speculation, Dior has finally confirmed Raf Simons, the fashion darling recently canonized after his abrupt firing as artistic director of Jil Sander, has been handed the keys to the house – just over a year after former Dior creative director John Galliano was handed his walking papers after an alleged anti-Semitic incident. The appointment will put an end not just to the constant gossip about who might be getting the job, but to suggestions that perhaps the whole concept of a creative director was outmoded.
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It never rains but it pours, and so on. In those terms, this month the fashion world is experiencing a deluge. After the departures of Stefano Pilati and Raf Simons from YSL and Jil Sander respectively, and the expected departure of Derek Lam from Tods at September and the end of his contract, come two more announcements: Lucy Yeomans is leaving as editor in chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK and Amanda Brooks has left as fashion director of Barneys New York. This is, as they say, a moment of change.
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I’m telling you: ides of March. Rumours have spread like wildfire that Derek Lam, the American designer who has been creative director of Tod’s for the last six years, has parted ways with the brand. The Tod’s folks are have been hiding from all emails and phone calls since last night, but they aren’t denying it. If it’s true, it has interesting implications for the future of luxury.  Read more

Hedi Slimane, pictured in 2007. Getty Images.

So the expected has come to pass and today Yves Saint Laurent announced the appointment of Hedi Slimane as overall creative director of the house. This one has been a long time coming.

Mr Slimane was the much-feted men’s wear designer at YSL from 1996-2000 (even Mr Saint Laurent thought he was terrific).  He left after Tom Ford bought the brand for Gucci Group, and became the widely-praised designer of Dior Homme, departing over contract issues in 2007. During his tenure not only Bernard Arnault, LVMH chieftain, but pretty much every other LVMH executive wore his suits. Chanel’s Karl Lagerfeld liked them so much, they inspired his dramatic 100lb weight loss in 2001 (in his diet book he wrote “I suddenly wanted to dress differently, to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane”).

Since leaving fashion, Mr Slimane has had a very successful career in photography, has been living in Los Angeles, and has been the subject of perennial suggestions that YSL get him back.

Satisfaction! Read more