Yves Saint Laurent had always been one of my favorite “labels” – from the beginning of it’s inception. Architectural silhouettes, the infamous back bow, and a house that only one could ever dream to work at. The finest of couture. But in 2012, Hedi Slimane took over the house as creative director and changed the iconic name from Yves Saint Laurent, nixing the Yves. The industry knew there would be some level of rebranding, as a name change would signify such. But with such a big house, with so much history, a name change can be nothing but controversial and maybe to some who have close ties to the house, insulting to the founding members. Slimane, from 2012 until now, had transgressed the heritage of Saint Laurent from the elegant architect to a grungy punk. Incorporating pieces with the likes of edgy leather jackets, denim, and super casual sneakers. Reviews of the collections have varied from “It’s what the people want, something accessible.” to “He cheapened the house by making denim and slapping on the same price tag.”
My thoughts then, was just simply: “If you’re going to keep the Y in the YSL logo – just keep the damn name.”
Sales grew however, with Slimane’s foot in the door. And accessories were flying off the shelves. However, critics wanted the old house back. Editors had nothing much to say other than the collection resembles those who can easily replicate within a season – which is not great for a luxury brand. And not great for the consumer who wants at least some level of exclusivity; something that cannot be copied cheaply. Not to say that Slimane was wrong in his approach, but I think it begs the question, was Slimane the right creative director for Yves Saint Laurent, specifically. And that was the question, all throughout his reign, while we all drooled over his edgy leather jackets and tuxedos.
Were we missing something? Had Yves Saint Laurent lost a part of it’s soul becoming more contemporary? Was a more contemporary approach the right approach in the transgression of the newly democratized fashion world? And was Slimane selling a brand, not fashion?
I guess we won’t know the answers. What we do know is that Slimane left a beautiful dent in the Yves Saint Laurent house that will, in ten years from now, make those extra edgy pieces the most valuable on Vestiaire Collective. His final collection at Yves Saint Laurent (pictured above) was a rendition of classic silhouettes from the paying homage to archives from the 80’s and early 90’s, styled perfectly to an elegant punk rock aesthetic… and maybe something he should have initially dipped his toes into. But I look forward to seeing what direction the house will go in after his leave, and where he will pop in next. Maybe his own line?
And now that the uber coveted designer Anthony Vaccarello is creative director, I am really excited to see where he will take it. And to be quite honest, I have a really good gut feeling about him designing for this house.
TO BE CONTINUED!