Sources on Thursday dampened intensifying speculation that Raf Simons could be heading to Calvin Klein in a top creative role. The industry has been buzzing for weeks that the former creative director of Christian Dior women’s collection was being recruited for a top creative role at the iconic American brand.
But industry sources said not so fast. They said Simons has a stringent, non-compete with Dior, and if Calvin Klein were interested in him, it would be a long time before the company could hire him, barring an early release from his Dior agreement.
Officials at Calvin Klein parent PVH Corp., including Emanuel Chirico, chairman and chief executive officer, declined to respond to repeated requests for comment. Simons declined comment.
Simons, 47, who spent three-and-a-half years with Dior, made the decision to step down last month “for personal reasons,” and spring 2016, which he just presented, was his last collection. Both Simons and Dior described the separation as amicable after the designer and the company failed to reach an agreement on a new employment contract.
At that time, it was rumored that Calvin Klein may have been among the brands that had recently made overtures to the Belgian designer, known for his minimalist leanings, art-world connections and bold approach to design. In fact, Simons was in New York Wednesday night for the Dior-sponsored gala at the Guggenheim Museum.
“He [Simons] would be good for them. You need a person like Calvin Klein who makes decisions,” said one source of the speculation.
But sources said Simons is enjoying his time off and is looking forward to focusing on his own collection. He plans to show his namesake men’s wear line in January.
Calvin Klein recently named a new president of Calvin Klein Collection: Michelle Kessler-Sanders, who is responsible for overall brand strategy, growth and profitability of the Calvin Klein Collection business. Neither Kessler-Sanders nor Steve Shiffman, ceo of Calvin Klein Inc., were reachable for comment Wednesday.
Calvin Klein has three highly regarded designers for its high-end women’s, men’s wear and accessories collections. Francisco Costa is women’s creative director, Calvin Klein Collection; Italo Zucchelli is men’s creative director, Calvin Klein Collection, and Ulrich Grimm is creative director of Calvin Klein men’s and women’s shoes and accessories. Each is under contract to the house and the duration of those contracts could not be learned. There is also Kevin Carrigan who, as global creative director of CK Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Jeans, and Calvin Klein White Label, oversees the collections that generate the bulk of the company’s revenues.
When Simons said he was leaving Dior, he said the decision was based on his desire to focus on other interests in his life, including his own brand and outside passions.