Raf Simons, former designer for Jil Sander, has been appointed artistic director of Christian Dior’s haute couture, ready-to-wear and accessories lines. It was revealed in February that the designer was stepping down at Jil Sander and that he was being replaced by Sander herself.

The announcement comes following a year of speculation and rumours about who would inherit the fashion crown. Many names were thrown around blogs and magazine pages from Marc Jacobs to Kanye West!

Simons will take over from Galliano’s right hand man Bill Gaytten, who has been given the reigns at Dior since John Galliano’s departure in March 2011. Galliano, who was head of the French haute couture house for 15 years, was suspended by Dior in March 2011 over an alleged anti-Semitic tirade in a Paris bar which he attributed to stress and alcohol addiction. Under Gaytten’s introduction of playful pleats and ballet attire, Dior’s sales have jumped 21% in the past year, proving that Simons has some big silky shoes to fill!

The Belgian designer said: “It is with the utmost respect for its tremendous history, its unparalleled knowledge and craftsmanship that I am joining the magnificent house of Dior. Mr Christian Dior has always been for me the most inspiring couturier. Around the globe, the name Dior symbolizes the ultimate in elegance and refinement. I am truly humbled and honoured.”

It is thought that this shift from Galliano to Simons marks the move to a more reserved personality. This announcement comes just weeks after the news that Hedi Slimane will be returning to Yves Saint Laurent to take over from Stefano Pilati, marking a change for the two fashion houses, as well as a significant change, we presume, in French fashion.

Grace Fleming

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