Raf Simons, ‘I Don’t Want To Do Collections Where I’m Not Thinking’

Last spring, months before Raf Simons announced he’d be stepping down as Creative Director at Dior, the designer agreed to a series of intimate interview with prized fashion critic Cathy Horyn, Business of Fashion reveals.

Caught inside Dior’s unstoppable money-making machine, the pair’s conversations shed light on Simons’ creative suffocation during his time at the European house—his genuine artistry falling second to systematic processes in order to meet strict deadlines. For a dreamy romantic like Simons, such a regimented fast-paced environment became a heavyweight burden, as shown in the following interview excerpts via BOF, below.

On the Dior fall ready-to-wear show:

“You know, we did this collection in three weeks […] Tokyo was also done in three weeks. Actually everything is done in three weeks, maximum five. And when I think back to the first couture show for Dior, in July 2012, I was concerned because we only had eight weeks.”

On the Dior process:

“When you do six shows a year, there’s not enough time for the whole process […] Technically, yes—the people who make the samples, do the stitching, they can do it. But you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important. When you try an idea, you look at it and think, Hmm, let’s put it away for a week and think about it later. But that’s never possible when you have only one team working on all the collections.”

On inspiration:

“I just did a show yesterday. Just now, while waiting in the car, I sent four or five ideas to myself by text message, so I don’t forget them. They are always coming […] I was just thinking about this kind of very masculine tailoring you see in the navy. It can be stupid things, like a certain button. But I’ve been doing this my whole life. The problem is when you have only one design team and six collections, there is no more thinking time. And I don’t want to do collections where I’m not thinking.”

On his schedule:

“I have a schedule every day that begins at 10 in the morning and runs through the day, and every, every minute is filled. From 10.10am to 10.30am, it’s shoes, let’s say. From 10.30 to 11.15, it’s jewellery. Everything is timed—the whole week. If there’s a delay in a meeting, the whole day is fucked up.”

On fashion:

“Fashion became pop. I can’t make up my mind if that’s a good or a bad thing. The only thing I know is that it used to be elitist. And I don’t know if one should be ashamed or not to admit that maybe it was nicer when it was more elitist, not for everybody. Now high fashion is for everybody.”

On accessibility:

“Everything is so easily accessible, and because of that you don’t make a lot of effort anymore. When we were young, you had to make up your mind to investigate something—because it took time. You really had to search and dig deep. Now if something interests you, one second later, you can have it. And also one second later you also drop it.”

On personal versus professional life:

“There’s never enough time. You get a tension. I know how to pull out from this in my personal life. We go and look at nature for three hours. It’s heaven. We go to a bakery and buy a bag of stuff and lie in the grass. Sublime. But how to do that in the context of your professional life? You buy a house and you start doing pottery or something?”

The complete text of Cathy Horyn’s interview with Raf Simons appears in the Autumn/Winter 2015 issue of System Magazine.