“A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet”. Certainly not a sentiment that was shared by all in the aftermath of Hedi Slimane’s controversial 2012 decision to drop the “Yves” from Yves Saint Laurent. Now, following his departure from the label as creative director earlier this year and four years on, the jury is still very much out.
No one can deny Slimane’s major achievements during his tenure. He has undoubtedly made the brand more “rock and roll” through his music scene and youth culture-driven collections (I suspect Yves himself would have approved). Another stroke of genius was the introduction of a “permanent collection” of key pieces – including “Le Smoking” suiting and leather jackets – which are reproduced every season but never marked down. Sales soared, turning the brand into the highest performer in the Kering group‘s portfolio. And finally, there’s the house’s return to couture, confirmed earlier this month following last year’s announcement and lookbook. (But, before you start reaching for your life savings, the couture line which according to inside sources is going to be “more exclusive than couture” (who knew that was even a thing?), is apparently only going to be available to those who have been personally approved. As to what that entails, your guess is as good as mine.)
Inspired by the label’s 1966 Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line, Slimane saw the re-branding as a way of tapping into the label’s heritage whilst continuing to push it forward. Not a bad idea considering how in need of a re-boot the label was at the time. But the problem is, there are now so many variations of the branding, that it’s frankly all a little confusing! Here’s a quick recap for the uninitiated: the house continues to be Yves Saint Laurent, the ready-to-wear line is Saint Laurent Paris and the iconic Casandre YSL logo continues to be used for the beauty line. However, the “hand-sewn” label on the reintroduced couture collection will refer to Yves Saint Laurent Couture meanwhile, the accompanying campaign refers to it as “Saint Laurent La Collection de Paris.” You still with me?
So, what next for La Maison (Yves) Saint Laurent? Well, all eyes are on new creative director, Anthony Vaccarello who will be showing his first collection in Paris in October. Will we see the return of “Yves”? Probably not. Images released in June showing Vaccarello’s vision for the label suggest that the ready-to-wear collection will remain Saint Laurent for the foreseeable future.
And what of Slimane? Unsurprisingly, speculation has been rife. Some have him returning to Dior. Others as the successor of La Lagerfeld at Chanel. Better still is the suggestion of an eponymous collection. Whatever he ends up doing, the one certainty is that we will probably all be fascinated.