I’m very scared sometimes that fashion might attack its own magic by the amount of exposure. Is this normal, the speed of fashion?
– Raf Simons, fashion designer. Quoted from an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, September 2013.
Mr. Simons recently left his position as designer for Dior. He was hired in 2011 to replace John Galliano. (Remember that story?) Mr. Simons was a smash hit at Dior, responsible for a more romantic feel to the brand and an increase in sales by 60 percent.
So, why did he leave? Perhaps there’s a clue here in this quote. At Dior Mr. Simons created designs for six shows a year and two of those haute couture. That’s a lot of exposure and a lot of pressure. Although he hasn’t commented specifically on the pressure, he has spoken about the lack of time for proper reflection and “incubation” time for new ideas. He has questioned the ability for fresh ideas and good design when producing fashions for so many shows. He has also questioned the purpose of all this.
I see a direct connection between the rise in production and corporate takeovers of fashion houses. In the past 15 to 20 years, investment companies such as LVMH, who happens to own Dior, Donna Karan, Fendi and a host of other brands, have ventured into the fashion industry buying up current design houses as well as old names (like Schiaparelli) hiring budding designers and re-branding. Simply put, the push is to make money and the more merchandise hitting the market, the more money will be made.
Such is the story of capitalism, but it seems that the fashion talents are pushing back. In 2015 Alber Elbaz quit Lanvin, Donna Karan left her own brand, and now Mr. Simons. Are they setting a trend?