In an announcement that surprised many in the industry, Belgian designer Raf Simons announced he was stepping down as creative director of Christian Dior in October 2015. In a statement, the designer identified "passions outside of work," as his motivation for leaving, describing his decision as "based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life." LVMH chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault and Dior chief executive Sidney Toledano thanked the designer for his "exceptional contribution to the House," in the same statement.
Currently, Simons is focusing on his own eponymous label, Raf Simons. In April 2016, it was announced that the brand's Spring 2017 collection would be shown at Pitti Uomo in Florence.
During his time at Dior, Simons offered modern couture and demi-couture ready-to-wear collections, featuring contemporary art and new-age materials, creating a elegant and modern take on Dior’s archive of classic silhouettes. Simons’ homages and updates of the Dior archives placed the previously minimalist designer at the forefront of Parisian fashion, building on his established reputation from his work at his own label and Jil Sander . In 2015, Simons cast Rihanna as the first black face of the house, an expression of his continuing modernising influence on its aesthetic. Also in 2015, Dior & I, a documentary by Frédéric Tcheng exploring the house's couture atelier and the creation of Simon's first collection at Dior, was released to rave reviews and a widely positive reception.
On his appointment to Dior in April 2012, Simons replaced Bill Gaytten as creative director, ending a period of transition after John Galliano 's dismissal from the role. Simons told American Vogue he wanted “to bring some emotion back, to what I felt in the nineties, because I see a lot of amazing clothes, but I don’t see a lot of emotion now,” the designer continues to receive critical acclaim for his collections.
Previously, Simons received industry-wide acclaim for his minimalist work at Jil Sander, where he was appointed as creative director in June 2005. During his tenure at Jil Sander, Simons moved the brand's aesthetic from a somewhat austere minimalism, adding feminine accents and more fluid silhouettes. Whilst at the brand, the diffusion line Jil Sander Navy was launched under his creative direction.
Encouraged by Linda Loppa , head of the fashion department at the Antwerp Royal Academy, Simons launched the Raf Simons label in 1995. Initially a youth culture line the aesthetic of the Raf Simons brand changed in 2005. The former Arena Homme Plus editor Jo-Ann Furniss wrote, "The key turning point was A/W 04-05 (Waves), when the obsessive youth culture codes of his past were turned into clothes that were purely about shape and form."
In 2008, two flagship Raf Simons standalone stores opened in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan, in collaboration with the artists Sterling Ruby and Roger Hiorns. Since 2008, Simons has created collections in collaboration with Fred Perry, Asics and Adidas, and collections of sunglasses with Linda Farrow .