By: Non Kuramoto
Time and time again, I have brought up my obsession with Hedi Slimane and what he did for the house of Yves Saint Laurent.
There have been rumors since January of Slimane’s departure from the fashion house, but nothing had been confirmed until last Friday, as his 4-year contract was not renewed.
There has been speculation that Slimane’s desire to retain full control of the branding did not match with the fashion house’s plans to expand their creative team.
Slimane's appointment as creative director in 2012 caused a stir, as he changed the logo, dropped Yves from the brand name and refused to move to Paris, causing Saint Laurent to move their design headquarters to Los Angeles. Despite the criticism, Slimane ushered in a new generation for Saint Laurent, as profits grew and its reputation as Kering’s problem child was quickly absolved. This departure was a surprise as Slimane has spent the last four years transforming the brand’s identity, making it one of the most talked about luxury brands today. One would think that that house would want to keep him, and watch the brand grow even more.
Giving Saint Laurent its newfound rocker-chic and grungy vibe, Hedi Slimane became the pioneer of restructuring the identity of old name brands to make them more appealing to the Instagram generation. At Slimane’s magic fingertips, Saint Laurent didn’t just produce clothes people wanted to wear, but created identities that people wanted to be. Alessandro Michele has followed Slimane’s footsteps upon his appointment at Gucci to a similar effect, bringing Gucci one of their biggest successes in recent years.
Anthony Vaccarello, the current creative director of Versus Versace, has been appointed as the new creative director of Saint Laurent—causing yet another stir. The brand’s Instagram account, created by Slimane, has deleted all posts from the Slimane era, leaving a single picture of Vaccarello. There has been outrage among Slimane fans, as they have taken it as symbolizing the brand’s decision to dismiss the Slimane era in order to give Vaccarello a blank slate to work with. However, as none of the other social media platforms have been untouched, and all Saint Laurent establishments still very much retain the work of Hedi Slimane, the idea of creating a blank slate does not seem entirely plausible. Also, knowing Vaccarello’s personality and design style, it is hard to believe that he will not have nods towards the Slimane era as he take his position as creative director.
As Slimane joins Alexander Wang, Raf Simons and Stefano Pilati as yet another designer leaving their position as creative director of a large fashion house within five years of their appointment, it leaves the fashion world wondering not only about Slimane’s future, but about fashion's increasingly fast-paced cycles.
As for Slimane, he has never been one to take predictable directions in anything he does. He may take another hiatus—as he did after his tenure at Dior Homme—to focus on photography and art making in LA. The newest rumors have been that Slimane may be taking over Chanel, but I don’t know if the world is ready for Karl Lagerfeld to leave Chanel yet. At least, I'm not—even for as much as I love Slimane.
Sources: Vogue.UK, Business of Fashion