Raf Simons

Michelle Labrague

Designer Biography

DOI: 10.5040/9781474260428-FPA073

As creative director at Dior (April 2012–) and Jil Sander (July 2005–February 2012), and as head of his own label (1995–), Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons (b. 1968) is known for his versatile design talent. His own label, focusing on menswear, is marked by signature references to youth movements such as punk, goths, and mods. Simons notes, in an interview with Humberto Leon: “Music was what was binding everything together. It was really the start and the end … The intention was just to start making clothes for a young generation that I could relate to.”

Simons’s training was in industrial and furniture design. Vogue notes that this background “proved to be the perfect fit for Sander’s notoriously clean and ultramodern (and menswear-inspired) tailoring.” It also led him to intern with Walter Van Beirendonck, working on the presentation and decoration of Van Beirendonck’s showrooms and collections.

A shift in profession was encouraged by Linda Loppa, a store owner and head of the fashion department at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Loppa encountered Simons’s furniture and subsequently suggested that he should make some clothes. He made a collection, showed in Milan and, in 1995, the self-taught menswear designer started his eponymous label. Simons’s design talent was recognized by a professorship from 2000 to 2005 at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna.

As design director for menswear and women’s wear at Jil Sander, Simons slowly introduced more feminine elements to the brand’s androgynously minimalist style. He experimented further when in 2010 he presented the first of three couture-inspired shows, and in April 2012 he replaced John Galliano at Dior.

Raf Simons, Fall/Winter 1998 Photograph by Niall McInerney, Fashion Photography Archive

References and Further Reading

Find in Library Bonnami Francesco , and Peter de Potter , eds. Raf Simons, Redux . Florence : Charta/Fondazione Pitti, 2005.

Find in Library Jonkers Gert. ““Mr. Raf Simons”.” Fantastic Man 14 (2011).

Leon Humberto. “Humberto Leon Interviews Raf Simons—Pt. 1.” Opening Ceremony New News, 6 August 2013. http://openingceremony.us/entry.asp?pid=8343 .

Leon Humberto. “Humberto Leon Interviews Raf Simons—Pt. 2.” Opening Ceremony New News, 13 August 2013. http://openingceremony.us/entry.asp?pid=8343 .

Raf Simons.” Vogue, n.d. http://www.vogue.com/tag/designer/raf-simons (accessed 3 March 2015).

Find in Library Socha Miles. ““Raf Simons: The Modernist”.” Women’s Wear Daily , 27 October 2008. http://www.wwd.com/fashion-news/designer-luxury/raf-simons-the-modernist-1840859?full=true .

Find in Library Wilson Eric. ““Private Equity Group to Buy Jil Sander Label from Prada”.” The New York Times , 24 February 2006. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/24/business/24sander.html?pagewanted=print&_r=0 .