by Jeremy Danté

what began as rumors & speculation, murmured throughout the fashion world, has now escalated to shouts. shouting from reputable sources like women’s wear daily & the new york times’ cathy horyn; it appears that the removal of john galliano as creative director at christian dior has been the first motion in what i refer to as, the great fashion shift. after allegations & a trial set fashion headlines on fire; galliano’s fall from grace, though tragic, has set the groundwork for a much needed creative rotation in the world of high fashion. as coveted a position at dior has everyone buzzing- who would step in as galliano’s replacement? what about couture? what about womenswear? what about galliano’s own namesake label? names were being spit from every direction; hedi slimane, haider ackermann, ricardo tisci, alber elbaz, lagerfeld- every creative director was being mentioned. as enticing as some of these names & label associations sounded- the only ones who remained tight lipped were the most important players of all, fashion house reps. after consistent speculation from a number of sources around the fashion forum & internet blogosphere; much of that speculation is being confirmed as this fashion shift is now in full swing.

discussed here previously, WWD speculated news regarding raf simons leaving his post at jil sander to hop over to the house of dior. while reps for both labels remained on hush, announcement of simons’ exit from sander was headline news early last week. with raf’s exit from sander, that left many questioning who would fill the space as director at that label. in a completely unexpected move, just a day following the news of raf simons’ departure, it was announced that jil sander herself would return to her namesake label after 12 years. this news, was a shock considering sander’s reasons for departure were feuds with executives at the prada group, who then owned a 75% stake in the sander label. after missing from the game & a successful collaboration with japanese fast fashion retailer, uniqlo, under her belt; sander appears to be excited about her design homecoming. “i am confident that this is the time for modern sophistication, for attractive, wearable fashion which is true to the new century” says sanders, who has already returned to begin her work at the label. as the last collection creatively directed by raf simons strolled the runway, simons did his final walk after his stunning collection & said goodbye with a tearful wave. while reps at the house of christian dior have not yet responded to speculated reports regarding simons taking the helm at their label, i expect that announcement will come very soon, likely before show season comes to a close. the timing of these announcements & the release of such statements has definitely been keeping fashion on high alert.

at present, christian dior has put an interim director in place in light of galliano’s removal following his racism controversy. bill gaytten, whom served as galliano’s assistant for a number of years, is the interim artistic director & presented a stellar haute couture collection. under the guidance of gaytten, everything seemed to be under control at the historic french fashion house. while no announcement has been released, the house of dior shows their fall/winter 2012-13 collection on march the 2nd & i would not be shocked if this prompted them to also announce simons as new creative director. in terms of publicity, this would create a media frenzy & would overshadow other fashion news of the moment, which is a smart tactic for gaining even more media focus. amidst all of the christian dior movement & gossip, another label’s creative director was also being put into question. stefano pilati, whom has been in place as creative director at yves saint laurent since 2004, having been involved with the label since 2000. since pilati began as director, the internet & media outlets have been abuzz about his removal, low sales figures & these rumors never died down. while these claims were shot down a number of times by yves saint laurent press reps, it was confirmed by both women’s wear daily (WWD) & the new york times that pilati will present his last collection for the house march the 5th, in paris. what i find so tragic of this removal is that pilati had seemingly hit his design stride. after murmurs of low sales figures, those figures went up after pilati flexed his muscle in areas of accessories with leather goods. this move turned profitability around at the label in 2008 & from that point onward, pilati has re-established some of the heritage of the french label; by making it a point to tap into parisienne concepts, shapes & silhouettes. no news or speculation of pilati’s next move are known at the present time.

with pilati vacating the directing position at yves saint laurent, some have speculated the return of hedi slimane. speculating that slimane would return to YSL, a label who’s menswear division he used to direct. with an impressive resume under his belt & years of experience in the fashion game, slimane has played an influential role in menswear fashion history. as the once creative director of menswear at YSL, slimane was put in position as their creative director of menswear by pierre bergé, co-founder to the yves saint laurent label, in ’96. in this role, slimane introduced the iconic ‘skinny jean’ & later left the label to move on to a directing position at christian dior in ’01. as director of menswear, slimane’s involvement was instrumental in the launch of the dior homme sub-label. with dior homme, slimane dressed rock stars, mick jagger & david bowie among many others in music, prompting an incredibly influential presence of dior’s menswear division, while being the first menswear designer to be awarded, by the council of fashion designer’s of america (CFDA), the international award. during this period, slimane has been credited for redefining the male silhouette.  in 2007, though discussion of having a namesake label funded, slimane walked away from dior & did not renew his contract. since then slimane has not been active in the world of fashion design & has focused his creative energy in photography. this move has allowed slimane to remain a force in fashion, while separating him from the pressures of design. as a photographer, slimane has had a number of exhibitions & has worked with a wide range of prestigious clients in, both publication & advertising.

so with all of this speculation, which will render true? will raf simons head over to christian dior? will hedi slimane return to yves saint laurent? considering that slimane has an incredibly influential track record with the house of christian dior, i wouldn’t be surprised if he was put into place at that label; while simons could be a fit for yves saint laurent. in the game of fashion, there are often shake-ups, but there haven’t been this many big budget shifts, all at once. while i sit back, watching headlines & speculation circle the perimeter, i feel that this shift is needed more so now than ever. the house of christian dior has suffered a great loss with the removal of john galliano, but things will definitely get interesting from this point onward. these creative directors have a direct impact on the way we view clothing, the way we precieve style & the way our society is shaped- through advertising, cut & something that appears as minimal as silhouette. whether you’ve known it or not, these artists are the great motivators of our future, leading influence onto the runway, each season. for there is no greater piece of history than that of which we wear on our backs. [source]