You know that a designer has really hit their stride at a label when you couldn't imagine its being designed by anyone else. Only a few years ago I said that of Dior by John Galliano. Today I'm saying it of Dior by Raf Simons.
I am a huge fan of John Galliano. However one views the circumstances of his painfully public downfall in 2011, no-one can deny that as a designer he is one of the all-time greats, particularly in his work for Dior. I very much miss the extravagance and drama of his collections, and I sincerely hope that he will make a return to fashion before long (and if taking the reins at Oscar de la Renta really is on the cards, I will probably cry tears of joy).
Raf Simons is an altogether different prospect. When the rumours about his possible appointment at Dior surfaced, I was at best concerned and at worst scandalised. I've never been a fan of minimalism, and although I appreciated the artistry of Raf Simons' pared-back aesthetic for Jil Sander, I wanted more for Dior. But then his final Jil Sander collection (which many saw as an 'audition' of sorts for the Dior job) damn near converted me.
And here we are, not quite two years on, and Simons has carved out a mould for himself at Dior that no other designer could ever fit into, and yet which is as inseparable from the house's DNA as the New Look. It was as I looked through the pictures of his pre-fall collection this morning that it occurred to me: perhaps Simons, too, is one of the all-time greats.