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How Jil Sander Replaced Raf Simons

Explaining How Jil Sander Replaced Raf Simons at Jil Sander

The exact circumstances under which Jil Sander replaced Raf Simons as the creative director of her eponymous fashion house were unclear until today.

According to a new profile in WSJ. Magazine's Winter issue, Sander wasn't called back to the house she founded in 1968 just because Simons was on his way to Dior. In fact, Sander entered talks with Onward Holdings Co., the Japanese private equity firm that owns the label, about coming back over six months prior to Simons's departure. Sander left her job designing the +J capsule collection for Uniqlo in September 2011, and it was announced that she would replace Simons at the end of February 2012.

Simons's departure, it seems, came before he officially accepted the Dior job — though when he left, he had already entered talks with LVMH about becoming the house's creative director. And while Simons's work at Jil Sander was a critical success, the profile notes that during his time there, "the company remained solidly in the red." To turn Jil Sander's fortunes around, the label's chairman Franco Pene said he wanted "to get back to the roots of the company — to its DNA. And there was no one more capable of doing this than the original designer."


Whatever the reasoning for her return to the label, where her first two collections have earned favorable reviews, Sander credits divine intervention with steering her back home.

"With all of my history, I feel it's been more like a journey, and driven by something up there," she says, pointing toward the heavens. "This is actually what it has to be. We learn to never go back, never try to repeat, only look to the future. But in this case, maybe this is an exception."

Photo courtesy of Jil Sander

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