After John Galliano’s infamous anti-Semitic rant in Paris last April, many wondered how his sudden departure from Dior would affect the French fashion house.
According to the Financial Times, not only did Galliano’s departure leave the company relatively unscathed, but they actually ended up with their highest earnings per annum ever, hitting $1 billion in 2011. “I never considered that,” Sidney Toledano, the president of Dior said. “I always thought we absolutely needed an artistic director.”
It makes you wonder: how important is a charismatic designer to a fashion house? Is it worth the potential risk that sometimes accompanies a more flamboyant style of creative genius?
Toledano seems to think so. Though he admitted that Dior still fared well financially without Galliano, he did stress how important he felt designers were for shaping a label’s identity, likening designers to “a shorthand to help consumers understand the brand, and to embody it.”
Does that mean someone like the more demure Raf Simons, who is taking over Galliano’s post for Dior, might not have the same capacity to “embody” the brand? According to Toledano, it all comes down to the individual.
“If [charisma] works for the designer, then fine . . . but if not, it can be counterproductive, and it is better to avoid it. In the end, luxury is judged not by whether a designer’s face is on X number of posters, but by their work.”
Our bet is that if Simons’ tenure at Jil Sander was anything to go by, his work will more than speak for itself.
Jada Wong: “And the pressure’s on, Raf.” [Styleite]
Cheryl Wischhover: “We have no doubt that Simons will do amazing things for the house of Dior, but it will be interesting to watch how labels continue to manage the increasingly frequent hirings and firings of creative directors and how it affects their bottom lines.” [Fashionista]
Bernadette Morra, Editor-in-Chief: “A creative director is absolutely vital to the continued growth and development of a brand. True, Dior may be able to coast without a strong creative force at the helm for a while, but not for the long term.”
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