'The Dior team wasn't used to someone so direct': Designer Raf Simons on the challenge of succeeding John Galliano



19:01 GMT, 14 November 2012

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.

Belgian designer Raf Simons acknowledges the audience at the end of his show for Christian Dior

Fresh approach: Raf Simons, pictured taking his bow after his debut couture show for Dior in July

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.

'My mother was a cleaning lady, and my father was a night watchman… I was raised in a very happy nest, and think that is enough to make me succeed'

'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.'

Christian Dior Haute Couture

Christian Dior Haute Couture

Christian Dior Haute Couture

Critical acclaim: The designer's debut couture collection was a hughe hit with the fashion press

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.

British designer John Galliano for French fashion house Dior appears at the end of his Spring/Summer 2011 women's collection during Paris Fashion Week

The old and new Dior: Mr Simons succeeded John Galliano, who 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.'