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Maxime Simoens mightnot have gotten the top job at Dior, but a recent cash infusion from Dior and LVMH owner Bernard Arnault should be a comforting consolation prize.
Arnault is reported to have purchased a stake in Simoens's eponymous two-year-old fashion label. The size of Arnault's stake in the business is unknown, but his investment indicates that he wants to keep tabs on Simoens. At 27, Simeons is so well-regarded in the French design world that he was widely rumored to be in the running to replace John Galliano at Dior. Until recently, Simoens was also the creative director of French label Leonard, but he left that post earlier this month — which made many believe that he would in fact take over for Galliano. It was announced shortly afterward that the job went to Raf Simons.
But just because Simoens isn't at Dior now doesn't mean he won't be in the future. A source suggested to WWD that LVMH may be interested in parlaying Simeons's talent into a future role at one of its bigger fashion houses, which include Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Fendi, among others.
A look at highlights from Simoens's past collections in the gallery.
Photo: Maxime Simoens takes a bow at a presentation of his clothing in Singapore, October 2011.
>> With John Galliano out the door at Dior, so, too, went the theatrics, the elaborate sets, and the exaggerated makeup and silhouettes. And, with the recent news that Raf Simons — a designer celebrated for his refined sensibility and minimalist aesthetic — has been named artistic director, it's safe to say that the era of exposed posteriors and breasts that dominated Galliano's tenure is definitely gone for good as well. Here, a look back at the Dior that was, 1996-2011. (NSFW)
Simons, who was recently ousted from the director's chair at Jil Sander, will pick up the reins at Dior this week. The house will make the official announcement on Wednesday, and Simons will present his first collection for the brand in July during Paris's Fall 2012 haute couture shows.
Simons's selection makes sense — his final collection for Jil Sander featured clothing that experimented with couture techniques and drew on midcentury silhouettes, rendered in Dior's signature reds, beiges, and pale pinks. It lent credence to the idea that Simons was auditioning for the role — or was at least being considered for it — but media speculation pointed more directly at other designers, like Marc Jacobs and Haider Ackermann.
But Simons will be a fresh start for a house that for a long time was led by a isolated artist. Cathy Horyn noted that Simons is the opposite of Galliano in his approach to creating fashion — an idea the designer echoes. "I'm someone who takes responsibility," he said. "I'm not an isolated person. The more I connect to people, the more I have the feeling that things work."
The job became available in March 2011, when longtime Dior creative director John Galliano was fired for making a string of anti-Semitic remarks in public. Bill Gaytten, Dior's studio director, has been filling in for Galliano in the interim. But Simons wasn't a candidate until October or November of last year, when he began meeting with Dior CEO Sidney Toledano and LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault about the job.
Simons hasn't started designing his first collection for Dior yet, but he said he is looking forward to the challenge of interpreting the house's history for the 21st century.
"Mr. Dior was very innovative during a short time span. And it was in the middle of the 20th century, a period I am very interested in, whether it’s linked to fashion, architecture or art," he said.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Ackermann revealed that he has his eye set on not just one creative director's chair, but two.
"There are two houses I would be interested in," Ackermann said. "Two where I feel there is shared sensibility, and I could bring something else of myself to the house, which isn't expressed in my own line."
Ackermann declined to tell FT which houses he was talking about, but did admit that his dream is to work on a couture collection. He's been rumored to be in the running for the Dior job since the house's last creative director, John Galliano, was fired last March, and Karl Lagerfeld told Numero in 2010 that he wanted Ackermann to succeed him at Chanel.
Ackermann says no matter which job he does next, he's prepared for the pressure. "This is fashion, it's not surgery," he said. "It's a job; a job with a lot of dreams woven in."
John Galliano's Fall 2012 collection was the second solo show for Bill Gaytten, and the incumbent designer successfully set the tone for a charming, British-chic season. He showed gorgeous floaty gowns draped in silk charmeuse and accordion pleats, riding coats with ruffled collars, and sumptuous velvet cropped trousers, all in a decidedly autumnal palette of mustard, royal blue, and cinnamon. Seasoned models like Coco Rocha, Jourdan Dunn, and Lindsey Wixson walked the runway outfitted in sexy thigh-high tights, sheer gowns, and lavish feathered headpieces, punctuating a Fall collection that was a genuine mix of racy and refined, English polish and undaunted sexuality — something we can only imagine Galliano would be proud of.
>> What's a Galliano collection without a little subversion — even if John Galliano isn't the one dishing it out? Bill Gaytten is well-aware of the signature Galliano ingredient, and for Fall 2012, the designer — now in his second season at the label's helm — offered it in the form supershort hems, hourglass silhouettes, thigh-high hosiery, and see-through gowns. But it wasn't all undone Victoriana, even if the main inspiration was the art nouveau eroticism of illustrator Aubrey Beardsley. Stephen Jones-designed hats, fur-trimmed capes, and easy-wearing dresses looked plenty romantic, as did the belted and ruffled riding coats that dominated the show. It may not have been over-the-top theatrical — but it sure made for a lovely mix.
As we look forward to welcoming 2012 with open arms, we must also look back on a year that has had quite its fill of fashion highs and lows. Needless to say, there's never a dull moment in the industry and we've loved every second of its sartorial suspense, trendy takeaways, dresses to-die-for, red carpet sizzles, model moments, and of-the-minute style inspiration. It's safe to say 2011 was one for the books and to bid it adieu properly, we're highlighting the year's biggest and most fashion news headlines. Want to know what made our jaws drop? Click through to find out the five biggest fashion headlines of the year.
Decadent collections from Elie Saab, Valentino, Christian Dior, and more of Paris Fashion Week's best left us wishing we had occasion to hit the red carpet in the designers' stunning confections. Each delivered their own version of the red-carpet ready — Valentino with delicate sheer layers, Elie Saab in brightly crafted sequins, and more, like Nina Ricci's pitch-perfect femininity. We may not have red-carpet obligations of our own, but the least we can do is take a closer look at the standouts, and anxiously await the days when our favorite celebs showcase them at premieres and parties. Click through for the top 20 most beautiful gowns from Paris Fashion Week.