Just when we thought we were back up to speed after the fashion cabinet reshuffle, the news comes in. After almost a year of speculation surrounding the next move for Dior’s former creative director, Raf Simons, PVH Corp., the company which owns Calvin Klein, has just confirmed that the Belgian fashion designer will be taking the creative helm at the American fashion house. After his departure from Dior in October 2015, rumours of Simons' new role first arose last November, when WWD reported that he'd be heading to Calvin Klein once the dust had settled. Those suspicions were only heightened when Francisco Costa, the womenswear creative director at Calvin Klein and Italo Zucchelli, the menswear creative director, left the brand in April 2016, as the label revealed plans to unify its men's and women's collections under the creative direction of just one designer. But why has it taken almost a year to officially announce what everyone in the industry has known and been whispering about for months and months? The delay is due to a stringent non-compete clause in Simons' contract with Dior, which ceased at the end of July, giving him the liberty to join Calvin Klein. Despite the contract ending just last week, it is understood that Raf Simons has already relocated to New York, has begun preliminary meetings with Calvin Klein employees and it seems likely that his first collection will be AW17. So what do you need to know about the man tasked with transforming Calvin Klein and consolidating the menswear and womenswear collections? Though Simons is a key player in transforming menswear and the way the modern man (and woman for that matter) dresses, Simons' career actually began in furniture design. He launched his eponymous menswear label in 1995 and a decade later was appointed creative director at Jil Sander, marking his first foray into womenswear. Simons stayed at the Milan-based fashion house for seven years, until 2012 when founder Jil Sander took back the reigns.
A few months later it was announced that Simons would replace Bill Gaytten as creative director at Dior, after a limbo period, following John Galliano's dramatic fall from grace and dismissal for his anti-semitic remarks. But after just a three year stint, on October 22, 2015, Simons resigned from his post as the creative director of womenswear, where he had been celebrated for respecting and modernising the house's signature silhouettes and aesthetic. In a press statement, he explained his reasons for leaving, stating: "It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and passions that drive me outside my work." Considering his reasons for leaving Dior to focus more on personal pursuits, it is perhaps surprising for some that Simons has moved onto another multi-million dollar, international fashion house which runs on the same never-ending circuit and schedule as his previous roles. In April, some months after his departure, Simons told The Telegraph: "Everyone is paying attention to the wrong thing in my opinion. There’s this huge debate about ‘Oh my God, should we sell the garments the day after the show or three days after the show or should we tweet it in this way or Instagram it in that way?’… You know, all that kind of bullshit. Will all that stuff still be relevant 30 years from now? I don’t think so. What we should ask is will we have enough creative people who are strong enough and willing to do what is necessary right now to follow that madhouse. Lots of people are starting to question it. My generation especially is shifting now… like me and Phoebe [Philo], Nicolas [Ghesquière] and Marc [Jacobs]. We’ve been around for 20 or more years. We know what fashion was and where it’s heading to. Now it’s a question of what we are willing to do and how we are going to do it." That said, we cannot wait to discover Simons' answer to that question and see how he will shape the future of fashion with his new role at Calvin Klein.