Meet Raf Simons, Dior’s New Artistic Director

Seven months after John Galliano's high-profile dismissal, Dior has finally announced a replacement.

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Giuseppe Aresu / AP / Getty Images

Belgian designer Raf Simons at the end of the Jil Sander Spring/Summer 2012 women's collection in Milan on Sept. 25, 2011

The position of Christian Dior’s artistic director has been open ever since John Galliano was convicted for anti-Semitic remarks seven months ago. The fashion house dismissed Galliano just a few days before their March 2011 runway show, because he drunkenly insulted a customer at a cafe in Paris. A video captured his controversial remarks and subsequently went viral.

Galliano has finally found a replacement in Belgian designer Raf Simons, the former creative director for Jil Sander. According to the New York Times, Dior says Simons will become the sixth designer to steer the 66-year-old haute-couture house.

(MORE: John Galliano on Trial: ‘Triple Addiction’ Led to Anti-Semitic Remarks)

Fast Facts:

  • Simons, now 44, grew up as an only child in Neerpelt, Belgium
  • As a teenager, Simons bought Kraftwerk and Joy Division records from a local record shop
  • He was inspired by the Antwerp Six, a group of Belgian designers who became famous in the ’80s
  • Simons began his career as a furniture designer, and moved to a menswear label in 1995
  • He took a sabbatical, then taught in the fashion department at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria, from 2000 until 2005
  • Simons won the Swiss Textiles Award in November 2003
  • He was named creative director of Jil Sander in July 2005
  • Simons launched Raf by Raf Simons line in June 2005
  • He published Raf Simons Redux, a book co-authored with Peter De Potter, in 2005
  • He presented his last show for Jil Sander in Milan on Feb. 25, 2012, during Fashion Week
  • Dior confirmed that Simons would become its new creative director on April 9, 2012

(LIST: Jil Sander – All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons)

Quotes By:
“The first time I heard about the Dior position. I thought, ‘This feels right.’ ” (New York Times, April 2012)

“Of course I haven’t been in the archives yet, but for me the strongest impact is the first 10 years of Dior and how to link that to 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. So I find it very challenging to rethink couture.” (New York Times, April 2012)

“I’m a club kid at heart, and not a day goes by that I don’t listen to Plastikman, aka Richie Hawtin. I first saw Richie years ago, when I was 20-something, at I Love Techno, one of the huge live events we have in Belgium that 60,000 or 70,000 kids go to. He is such a master: the hardest, the best, technologically the most innovative.” (W Magazine, March 2012)

“I’ve been thinking a lot about how women can get the shape they’re probably interested in without ornamenting it.” (New York Times, February 2007)

“If I see a fashion show with literal influences, it doesn’t make me think any more. It doesn’t make me dream. I fantasize about what the future could be in terms of aesthetic and psychology. It’s the most difficult thing to do because you have to start from the past – your favorite architect, your favorite song – you take it all with you.” (The Guardian, January 2008)

Quotes About: 
“I’m sure Raf’s new look for Dior will be incredible and we can’t wait to see what he creates.” — Glenda Bailey, Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief (Associated Press, April 2012)

“I think what [Raf] has done over the last couple of years at Jil Sander is exactly what’s needed to bring Dior into the present moment. He’s shown that he can do things with a couture sensibility, but there’s also a real modernity … to his work.” —  Valerie Steele, Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, director and chief curator  (The Daily Beast, April 2009)

“The soft-spoken, Antwerp-based innovator is charmingly low-key – an anomaly in an industry that ‘love[s] Barnum types.'” — Cathy Horyn, New York Times critic (Rolling Stone, April 2012)

“Raf Simons is an extraordinarily talented designer. He combines great skill and vision with modernity and a point of view, which is essential for leading fashion houses today.” — Alexandra Shulman, Vogue editor (Vogue, April 2012) .

“Good luck to his successor. She’ll need it.” — Tim Banks, fashion reporter (Style.com, February 2012)

“It did things that we in fashion have been waiting for. Transparency, light, colour, proportion – it was new and will lead to something. This season’s [collection] will become one of those defining moments in the course of contemporary fashion.” — Cathy Horyn, New York Times critic (The Guardian, January 2008)

PHOTOS: Retrospective: John Galliano’s Most Memorable Dior Designs

LIST: Christian Dior – All-TIME 100 Fashion Icons

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