There’s been much ado about Raf Simons’s appointment at Dior, but let’s not forget about Bill Gaytten, who gamely assumed the house’s creative director duties after John Galliano’s infamous exit more than a year ago. A gifted craftsman who had worked as Galliano’s right-hand man for years, Gaytten wasn’t a well-known name in the fashion industry when he took over, and many critics believed he wasn’t up for the job. Indeed, his first show, the house’s winter couture collection, was a disastrous mess of clownish headpieces and awkward frills. But Gaytten learned quickly, and his five subsequent collections for the house were relatively well-received.
Although he may lack Galliano’s flair for courageous, dramatic statements, Gaytten managed to produce consistently pretty, wearable, and Dior–appropriate clothes. Meanwhile, the house’s sales boomed over the past year, leading many to wonder if Gaytten’s “interim” status might become permanent. He certainly seemed to want the position, and one couldn’t help but feel sorry for him every time a new rumor about his replacement made the rounds — some even fueled by his own boss at LVMH, Bernard Arnault. Between Galliano’s disgraced departure and the fashion world’s wary scrutiny, poor Gaytten deserves to be commended for doing fine work under tremendous pressure.
There’s been no mention of Gaytten’s role at Dior now that Simons has taken over, which seems odd. He remains the head designer at Galliano’s eponymous label, so he still has plenty on his plate. (In the meantime, he might enjoy some time out of the spotlight — or at least a well-deserved vacation.) Click through our slideshow for an analytic review of all six of his collections from the past year.