Photographer: Victor Boyko/Getty Images
Photographer: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

The Gorgeous, Psychedelic Worlds of Departing Dior Designer Raf Simons

Designer Raf Simons has proven to be a perennial success at Christian Dior since first assuming the helm of the nearly 70-year-old house in April 2012. It came as something of a shock to the fashion world, therefore, when Simons issued a statement earlier today announcing he'd be stepping down from his position as creative director of its womenswear collections. What the former furniture designer leaves in his wake is not only hundreds of sharp silhouettes made from sumptuous fabrics, but also memories of the incredibly lavish sets he built for his runway shows. Here are 10 iconic images.
Fall/Winter 2012 Haute Couture
Fall/Winter 2012 Haute Couture

For his first outing at the house of Dior during the Fall/Winter 2012 Couture collection (he was handed the mantle from previous designer John Galliano only that April), Raf Simons blanketed 51 avenue d'Iéna in Paris with a million multicolored blooms.

Photographer: Francois Guillot/AFP/GettyImages

Spring/Summer 2013 Ready-to-Wear
Spring/Summer 2013 Ready-to-Wear

For his Spring/Summer 2013 collection, Simons obstructed the gilded Hôtel des Invalides with a massive (yet minimally embellished) white cube.

Photographer: Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture
Spring/Summer 2013 Haute Couture

Simons employed designer Martin Wertz to conjure a hedge-trimmed maze within Paris's Tuileries for his Spring couture collection. It was as structured and mannered as his retro-leaning, midcentury-inspired collection.

Photographer: Francois Guillot/AFP/Getty Images

Fall/Winter 2013 Ready-to-Wear
Fall/Winter 2013 Ready-to-Wear

A cluster of silver orbs (reminiscent of Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate in Chicago) picked up the cloud-strewn runway floor, a playful touch reflective of Simons's whimsical dip into Warhol's archives for that season's clothes.

Photographer: Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage

Fall/Winter 2013 Haute Couture
Fall/Winter 2013 Haute Couture

What at first seemed like a relatively sober set for Simons quickly revealed itself as yet another visual feast, with photographs by fashion heavyweights Patrick Demarchlier, Paolo Roversi, Willy Vanderperre, and Terry Richardson projected onto the walls during the presentation. Each photographer had shot the models in their runway looks against Simons's favored floral motif, a nod to his first Dior couture show.

Photographer: Petroff Dufour/Getty Images

Spring/Summer 2014 Ready-to-Wear
Spring/Summer 2014 Ready-to-Wear

In one of his most sumptuous, transportive sets, Simons whipped up a wonderland of prismatic flowers that dangled from the ceiling. It was a hothouse meant to further enliven the text-laced looks that came down the runway.

Photographer: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Spring/Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear
Spring/Summer 2015 Ready-to-Wear

Don't see a set? That's the point. In a triumphant reversal of expectations, Simons staged his spring show in a mirrored tent in the very center of the Louvre. The reflective interior, when the lights went down and the clothes came out, revealed an engineering marvel. 

Photographer: Catwalking/Getty Images

Spring/Summer 2015 Haute Couture
Spring/Summer 2015 Haute Couture

Yet again, Simons obstructed another Parisian architectural gem, the Musée Rodin. He made a high-octane jungle gym catwalk with soft pink carpeting and jaunty mirrors. It was a head-spinning complement to the designer's textural looks.

Photographer: Catwalking/Getty Images

Fall/Winter 2015 Haute Couture
Fall/Winter 2015 Haute Couture

With painted acrylic panels shimmering above and plush purple carpeting below, Simons's couture collection was unforgettably romantic.

Photographer: Victor Boyko/Getty Images

Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-to-Wear
Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-to-Wear

In what would be his last show for Dior, Simons came full circle by covering the Louvre's Cour Carrée with delphiniums—an external reminder of the flowers that greeted guests inside the Parisian mansion that housed his first show for the house. 

Photographer: Victor Boyko/WireImage