Fashion is a ruthless game. One minute you're the hottest designer on everyone's lips, the next you're a fleeting memory in the collective consciousness. And don't even get us started on the sheer number of trends we see every season... that's another story altogether. Last week, Raf Simons' shock departure from the fabled halls of French couturier Christian Dior drew gasps of surprise - but when you look at the facts, should we really be that astonished?
Related story: Breaking: Raf Simons is leaving Dior
Tasked with couture, women's and men's ready-to-wear, resort and even his own namesake label - Simons was producing up to 10 collections a year, and as he said in his leaving statement "it is a decision, based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside of my work." In an interview quoted in The Cut, he spoke of a lack of "incubation time for ideas" - a process which many forget is imperative for any creative type. And that's perhaps the other issue - at the heart of it, designers are artistic beings who have been absorbed into huge (albeit luxury) machines ruled by shareholders and the pressures of quarterly profits, marketing strategies and cultivating a 24/7 social media presence.
Is it any wonder so many - like Raf Simons, his overworked predecessor John Galliano and plus Alexander Wang - flame out under the dizzying heights and endless spotlight of labels such as Dior and Balenciaga? Esteemed fashion writer Suzy Menkes summed it up perfectly in her op-ed for vogue.co.uk - "Designers - by their nature sensitive, emotional and artistic people - are being asked to take on so much. Too much." Menkes went on to describe the revolving doors of fashion's creative directors as a "lion's den", making us wonder if this constant question of who will reign next isn't a teeny bit like a modern day version of Game of Thrones - just with excellent shoes? Crowned one moment, licking your wounds and recuperating from a bad review the next - the expectations and strain on creative output is exhausting just thinking about it.
Related story: Confirmed: Alexander Wang is leaving Balanciaga
It's not just the designers and the dizzying array of ready-to-wear, resort, trunk shows, art exhibits, collaborations and ad campaigns they're expected to manage and create. Consumers of digital media and even the humble fast-fashion shopper are just as trapped by this frenetic pace. When social media is used to break campaigna and Instagram stars and bloggers (with seemingly limitless wardrobes choices) are used to advertise new-season pieces, what hope do we ever have of keeping up? While fashion has always demanded an unquenchable thirst for the 'new' or 'next big thing' - surely there has to be a moment when enough is enough - not just for the luxury houses and their designers, but for us, too.