*update: since this article has been published, it has been announced that Anthony Vaccarello will be replacing Hedi Slimane as the creative director at Saint Laurent*
Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent, as officially confirmed by Kering. After four years as creative and image director of the French luxury brand, Slimane has decided to leave the label. Supposedly, this was a result of the designer and the brand failing to come to an agreement on the terms of a contract. Slimane’s departure from Saint Laurent follows closely on the heels of Raf Simons’ departure from Christian Dior and Alber Elbaz from Lanvin. In fact, since Paris Fashion Week, the rumour mill had been churning out stories that his departure was imminent.
“Perhaps, it was the fact that each piece was always trending due to the restraint on variety, which was Slimane’s key to success”
Slimane was the designer who initiated a drastic revamp of the French house, starting by dropping the ‘Yves’ of the brand’s name and changing it from YSL to Saint Laurent. He streamlined the products of the house by focusing on recreations of key designs with minimal inclusion of pieces other than the staples; these included leather biker jackets, skinny jeans, le smoking jackets, Paris and Janis heels. Such choices met with contention. Critics who heralded his debut for the brand, admiring his individual take on founder, Yves Saint Laurent’s work, came to accuse Hedi Slimane of a lack of creativity towards the end of his tenure as he continued to take a minimalist approach in terms of the variety of designs made.
However, there was no doubt that this choice was what enabled Saint Laurent to become one of the most profitable brands for Kering, the luxury group which owns the French brand. It also repositioned the brand, making it a popular choice among the young and wealthy who took to the edgy, moody look which the brand exuded. Perhaps, it was the fact that each piece was always trending due to the restraint on variety, which was Slimane’s key to success. The subtle variations while maintaining the same classic pieces meant that sporting a previous season’s wear would not to be too noticeable, thus making Saint Laurent’s designs something more akin to an investment. Slimane undoubtedly made Saint Laurent a commercial success while increasing consumer’s knowledge of the brand
It will be interesting to see what happens next, as we await the appointment of a successor to Slimane. Reports claim that Belgian designer, Anthony Vaccarello is set to replace Slimane, though only time will confirm if this is the case. Whoever this person may be, they will be the sixth designer for the house, following Slimane and beginning with Yves Saint Laurent himself. Slimane’s plans for the future are also undisclosed for the moment, and it will be interesting to see what this Frenchman has in mind.
Claire Elizabeth Seah
Image Credits: thecollecteur via Instagram, harpersbazaarus via Instagram, Victor Soto via Flickr