NEW YORK -- After almost two years of ups, downs and more than a little bit of drama, could it be one big happy family at Christian Dior now, with Raf Simons sitting at the head of the table?
If it is, credit probably goes to his happy roots in Belgium, where the 44-year-old, an only child, was surrounded by a large extended family.
He gave his first big interview since joining Dior to Vogue, and it appears in the December issue, on newsstands later this week.
Simons said his childhood encouraged a sense of community and he wanted to replicate that in his new surroundings.
"I am superproud of my parents -- my mother was a cleaning lady, and my father was a night watchman in the army," said Simons. "And now I stand in this world, and yeah, it's a bourgeois environment, in a house that's seen in France as the most important position in fashion, along with Chanel. But I don't care about that. What I find amazing is that it's a beautiful house where I can make clothes to make women happy. I was raised in a very happy nest by very happy people, and I like to think that those are enough ingredients to make me succeed at Dior."
It certainly seems a different mindset than Simons' predecessor, John Galliano, had when he was fired after a video surfaced of him making anti-Semitic remarks.
The interview process for the top designer spot at Christian Dior wasn't perfunctory, not even with Simons' impeccable reputation, coming from Jil Sander. He had to meet every single employee before parent company LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton went public with his appointment last spring.
Many of the longtime workers saw hints of Christian Dior himself in Simons, but the designer told Vogue he wanted to honor the traditions and style that made the house so famous but also to give purpose to the future. He wanted to help pull the Dior woman from the crowd, he said.
"They weren't used to a personality like mine," Simons told Vogue, "to someone who was so direct and communicative.
"It's my nature to go to a place and make it comfortable for everyone, to create a sense of togetherness. I wanted to make clear to everybody, and not just in the company, that ... not in an aggressive way, but in a very sweet way ... I had taken control of the situation."