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What to Expect from Raf Simons and Kris Van Assche’s Relationship

Dior designersDior Homme designer Kris Van Assche stopped in New York for the opening of his label's pop-up shop in Soho, and WWD took the opportunity to ask the designer about his newly appointed womenswear counterpart at the brand, Raf Simons.

Van Assche was nothing if not politick, but also faintly icy:

“I think its great news. Let’s just wait and see how he decides to express himself…We’ve never been in the same place at the same time so we never got close. But I hugely admire his work."

The designer bristled when a reporter asked whether the two men at all shared a design sensibility informed by their mutual birthplace, Belgium: “I think it’s a bit of a cliché, no?”

To get to the juicy part, it's hard not to wonder whether Simons' status as a fashion darling and the critical acclaim for his eponymous menswear collection doesn't pose a bit of a threat to the current Dior Homme designer. One doesn't like to see designers go the arch-rival route (just kidding, I totally love it!), but a little healthy competition might be exactly what the house needs if John Galliano's scandalous dismissal from Dior is ever going to seem like a distant memory.

My knowledge of menswear is weak, so I defer my opinion about the designers' menswear chops to this anecdote:

Earlier this month, on the day we learned that Simons was headed to Dior, I met a friend for dinner. His sister was getting married in the coming weeks, and he'd spent the day shopping for a suit. When he told me he'd chosen a Raf Simons, I told him about the designer's new appointment.

"Looks like I should have waited — or, no, he won't be doing menswear?"

I shook my head.

"Right, they have that guy. And they love him. But I don't know why."

Back when Hedi Slimane was heading the label, my friend was a Dior Homme fanboy.

Collage with images from IMAXtree