Gary Grimes takes a look at how the fashion industry seems to be in the midst of a big shake up.
The landscape of high fashion is on the cusp of a major overhaul as rumours are circulating that yet another major fashion house is set to lose their creative director. And this time it is long time Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld who is said to be jumping ship.
According to Page Six, Lagerfeld intends to end his 33 year reign as the head of the iconic fashion house after next month’s resort show in Cuba. If rumours are true, then Lagerfeld will be retiring at the very respectable age of 83 (although it’s hard to say for certain as the designer is notoriously tight lipped on the subject of his age). After such a long and accomplished tenure at Chanel, it would be understandable if Lagerfeld feels the end if nigh
Other recent departures have come more prematurely. Late last year, Israeli fashion designer Albar Elbaz was infamously dropped as the head of Lanvin, where he had served as creative director since 2001. The reason being is supposedly that Shaw-Lan Wang, who owns Lanvin, did not feel that Elbaz’ work had met expectations.
Elbaz had previously been expected to take the helms of Chanel when Lagerfeld was falsely rumoured to be stepping down back in 2009. Obviously these rumours never came to be true but this time around Elba seems like a more obvious choice than ever to succeed Lagerfeld at Chanel given that he’s no longer attached to Lanvin.
Saint Laurent mastermind Hedi Slimane also recently confirmed that he would not be renewing his contract with the house after just 4 years of working there. In his time, he oversaw the rebrand from YSL to Saint Laurent and brought in a grungier, moodier aesthetic with his collections. At least on a commercial level, his work with Saint Laurent has been largely successful so many were surprised to here he would not be continuing with them.
And of course, most famously of all, Raf Simons has recently stepped down as creative director of Dior. The widely revered Belgian designer was made top dog at Dior in 2011 following the controversial dismissal of John Galliano. Simons’ first show with the fashion house was the subject of the famed 2012 documentary ‘Dior and I’ and his first collection was met with rave reviews.
Since then he has enjoyed consistent success designing with Dior for the last four years so it came as shock to many when he announced his departure, citing too heavy of a work load as one of his reasons for leaving. There are now rumours that he will move to Calvin Klein. There are huge changes happening at Calvin Klein at the moment as they have decided to merge their menswear and womenswear lines and drop both of their current designers, Francisco Costa and Italo Zucchelli. Prior to Dior, Simons was mostly known for his simple and conservative designs which would work perfectly at a subtle brand like CK.
And so it seems that in the space of about eighteen months, the fashion industry’s biggest players will be entirely different from who we have known in recent years. As more and more houses are opting to merge their menswear and womenswear and many designers are speaking out about the intense pressures of the seasonal structure they’re forced to work in, it would seem that for now, the only thing that is certain is that we are in the midst of a time of change in fashion.
By Gary Grimes
Photo Credit: Jean-Baptiste Mondino for T Magazine