So what’s in a name anyway?

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Yves Saint Laurent logo on one of the first jackets he designed

“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.

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Hedi Slimane

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?

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Saint Laurent Logo: Minimalist to some. Boring to others?

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.

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Saint Laurent – Vaccarello teaser

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.

 

 

 

 

Gender Bending in Menswear. Is this the future?

Fluidity in menswear is undoubtedly having a moment.  But what’s brought all this on?

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Grace Wales Bonner

Androgyny in fashion is nothing new. You only have to look at womenswear over the years. From YSL’s 1966 game-changer, the iconic “Le Smokin” tuxedo suit  to today’s  boyfriend jeans and granddad jumpers.  Nor is it particularly new in menswear. Some of us are old enough to remember Jean Paul Gaultier’s skirts? Not to mention icons of male androgyny like Prince and Bowie.

The current trend is largely attributed to Alessandro Michele’s Fall 2015 menswear show for Gucci, which gave us male models in pussy-bow blouses and low-slung wide trousers. But, it is British designer Grace Wales Bonner who is undoubtedly keeping the trend rolling. Ever since her debut A/W 15 collection “Ebonics”, the Central Saint Martins graduate has not wavered from her apparent gender blending mission statement. Her arresting, evocative and beautifully cut pieces, often styled with over the top jewellery in undeniably feminine silhouettes, have obvious cross-gender appeal. It may be “menswear” but girls love it too! This might explain why she has bagged every  “new talent” award since she burst onto the scene two years ago, the most recent being the 2016 LMVH Prize.

So, is this the future of menswear? The answer is no-one knows and realistically, probably not. I doubt anyone is expecting to see men routinely in skirts any time soon. But that shouldn’t matter in my opinion. Androgynous fashion has never needed mass appeal. Every once in a while, it just goes through a new ‘cycle’ for a new generation.

So anyway, isn’t it about time men’s skinny jeans were formally known as “girlfriend jeans”?

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Wales Bonner – London Collections Men SS 17

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Wales Bonner – London Collections Men SS 17

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Wales Bonner – London Collections Men SS 17 (featuring Alice Dellal)

 

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Wales Bonner – Fashion East SS 16

 

 

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Louis Vuitton (womenswear) SS 16 (featuring Jaden Smith)

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Wales Bonner – Fashion In Motion SS 15