Maxime Simoens Said Exiting Leonard

Should the designer end his tenure, another opportunity could be at hand: Dior has conducted talks with the 27-year-old, the sources said.

PARIS — A turbulent European season of designer departures and arrivals has yet to subside.

This story first appeared in the March 5, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

According to industry sources, Leonard, which last October tapped Maxime Simoens as its new creative director, is expected to part ways with the hot young Paris designer.

Should Simoens end his tenure at Leonard, another opportunity could be at hand: Dior has conducted talks with the 27-year-old, the sources said.

Leonard is scheduled to parade its fall-winter collection in Paris today.

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The parties are expected to characterize a separation as by mutual agreement.

Neither Simoens, nor officials at the French firm, known for hand-printed Coptic and orchid-print silk jersey designs, could be reached for comment.

While far less known and accomplished than some of the other candidates approached by Dior — which have ranged from Marc Jacobs to Alber Elbaz — Simoens’ story is a compelling one with echoes of Yves Saint Laurent, who famously succeeded Christian Dior following the founder’s death in 1957.

Aside from a physical resemblance — a reed-thin physique and prominent eyeglasses —Simoens is a French wunderkind. The bio on his Web site says that he became the first designer ever to be accepted as a member of the French Fashion Federation before having yet to show any of his collections.

Simoens has repeatedly denied to WWD that he has had any contact with Dior.

Dior officials could not be reached for comment Sunday, and the house has yet to reveal any plans regarding its creative leadership.

Dior is enjoying strong business momentum with its design teams under the creative leadership of Bill Gaytten, a longtime collaborator of disgraced couturier John Galliano, ousted from the fashion house last year in the wake of racist and anti-Semitic outbursts. The company is said to be mulling continuing with a team approach, possibly adding some young, up-and-coming talents, as reported.

Simoens joined the Paris couture schedule last year for his signature ready-to-wear line.

Celebrity fans of his sexy and graphic dresses include Mélanie Laurent, Rachel McAdams and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey.