by Alexander Fury .

Raf Simons at Dior

How could a fashion designer best round off a self-declared 'couture trilogy' (personally I prefer the term 'trinity', given the Easter overtones and a cheeky reference back to the Supermodels of yesteryear)? Well, with a high-profile hiring-and-firing that allows him to assume an haute couture mantle of his very own - that's the way Raf Simons did it. It's old news now (twenty-four hours is a lifetime in fashion, after all), but on Monday it was announced that the former Jil Sander head has been picked to lead the grande dame of French haute couture. His first collection will be just that - haute couture, created by a rigorous, almost religiously Modernist hand. There's something genuinely new for fashion to get all a-fluster about.

'I am truly humbled and honoured to become Artistic Director of the most celebrated French house in the world.' said Raf Simons. He's a well brought-up Belgian boy, so of course he would be. And despite the press perception of Dior being closer to poisoned chalice than Holy Grail for its next creative head, the limitless talent of Dior's ateliers and (almost) bottomless coffers of LVMH make it a dream job. It's also a limitless challenge, something a designer like Simons will doubtless relish.

My personal issue? I'm not sure Simons has the romance that so defines Dior. In itself that's not an issue - Cristobal Balenciaga  hadn't an ounce of romance in his clothing. They hung stiff with drama - which, of course, I mean in the best possible way (the man invented a fabric called 'super-gazar' that was essentially a cross between silk and cement: 'stiff' is the highest of praise). But if Cecil Beaton declared Balenciaga to be fashion's Picasso, then Dior was 'the Watteau of couturiers, full of nuances, delicate and chic.' One isn't better than the other. They're simply different. Simons did Picasso in his spring Jil Sander collection (with the approval of Pablo's estate, no less), and his winter womenswear (above) was nuanced, delicate and chic. In fact, that's the most concise and pricised summary I've heard of it. It remains to be seen how that will translate to the storied catwalk of Dior when Simons shows his first ever couture collection in July, neatly vaulting the quieter launch-pad of a pre-collection in favour of full-on French fash drama-rama. It seems that the waiting game chez Dior will carry on at least until then…

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