“You know, first of all, the relationship with Raf —” Sidney Toledano paused, setting his gin and tonic down on the veined marble end table beside him on Wednesday night. The Dior chief executive officer was seated in perhaps what was the quietest corner of the echoey Guggenheim rotunda. It was an hour or so into the Guggenheim International Gala’s pre-party, the first round in a two-night fund-raiser for the museum, underwritten by Dior for the past three years.
While much of the night unfolded just as it had in years past, with the expected number of “It” girls (Harley Viera-Newton, Laura Love, Hannah Bronfman, etc.) and “It” models (Hanne Gaby Odiele, Julia Nobis, Kätlin Aas) breezing in, all dressed in beautiful, loaned Dior, around 10 o’clock one very unexpected guest arrived: Raf Simons.
At a time when the musical chairs of creative directors in the luxury strata has become so dizzying that insiders question if the pressures of such a position are just too much for one person to handle, those who have followed such departures know that they often end up with the two sides not being on the best of terms. So considering the timing, what with Simons stepping down just two weeks earlier, this was a curiously gracious gesture and something of a confirmation that it was personal reasons (not in-house friction) that led to Simons’ exodus. Suffice it to say, his presence — and subsequent step-and-repeat posing with Toledano — surprised most.
“The relationship with Raf is on a personal basis,” Toledano started again. “He did a good job for the house and, as you can see, we have a very good relationship. It was important, also, the idea of unifying because we did [conceive of the Guggenheim fund-raiser] together. And with the friendship, it was natural for us to do it together again.”
Party guests were now swelling toward the center of the hallowed museum, where Grimes was taking the stage. She began sighing into the microphone while dancers in black leotards and flourescent chokers gyrated around her. Simons — who declined to speak to press — was likely taking it in, too.
“The future?” Toledano asked reflexively, when asked about the future of the house. “All I can say is, I hope you’ll be here next year.”