As has been widely rumored since the beginning of the year, Hedi Slimane has officially exited his position as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent.
He ends a four-year tenure characterized by anticipation and controversy as he was given rare authority to rebuild the renowned couture house from the bottom up starting with the feather ruffling rebranding of the ready-to wear as "Saint Laurent" and ending with a restoration of the dormant haute couture collection as an invitation-only venture under the original "Yves Saint Laurent" label. Though he never actually showed a full haute couture show, his final runway collection for Fall 2016, shown in Paris in February, was presented as if it were one, in silence with each look's number announced by Bénédicte de Ginestous who served the same role at Yves Saint Laurent's own haute couture shows. The collection was actually made in the house's couture workrooms, though it is in fact ready-to-wear, and its ad campaign, starring Cara Delevingne photographed by Slimane, was revealed by the designer himself only a few days ago.
Executives from Kering, which owns the business, have been open about the fact that Slimane's contract would end on March 31st, and that they would be negotiating until that point. It is difficult to understand how they couldn't come to terms with the designer to continue, since it appears that they bent over backwards to get him to come to the job in the first place, and the collaboration has been mutually beneficial to say the least. He was allowed to move the design studio to Los Angeles where he lives, and was given the authority to change just about everything about the brand from renaming the prêt-à-porter collections to redesigning the boutiques and in-store shops which were renovated at great expense. The amount of attention and funds lavished on Slimane was so notable that it reportedly rankled Kering's other star designer at Balenciaga, Nicolas Ghesquiere, enough for him to walk away from the brand he had already reconceived to great acclaim.
Ghesquiere is now comfortably ensconced at the Kering arch-rival LVMH-owned Louis Vuitton, while Balenciaga has just debuted the first collection by his second successor in four years. Now Kering is faced with replacing Slimane. Though not beloved by critics due to both his high-handed treatment of the press and collections that many of them found derivative and repetitive, he is adored by celebrity acolytes, and he managed to catapult Saint Laurent to over $1 billion in sales last year. Rumors have swirled around Belgian born designer Anthony Vaccarello as his replacement. He has his own collection and is also the designer for Versus by Versace. An announcement is expected soon enough for him to start work on Saint Laurent's Spring 2015 collections.
In the meantime, speculation continues about what Slimane's next move will be. It is unlikely that he will fill the most prominent open position in Paris available the moment, creative director at Christian Dior, as it is known to come with far less authority over branding than his now previous job. Slimane had been vocal about the fact that he had no influence over the Yves Saint Laurent cosmetics and fragrance business which is controlled by L'Oréal. Rumors had that as a sticking point in his re-negotiations with Kering, but the conglomerate was not in a position deal on that front. The most likely scenario has Slimane finally starting his own fashion house, presumably based in Los Angeles, but he is expected to take his time. He let a long five years lapse between leaving Dior Homme in 2007 and starting at Saint Laurent in 2012 and, though he now has the experience as a women's designer that would make it much easier to finance a new fashion brand, it is not known if he is in any hurry to jump back into the fray. Until that happens, however, his future moves are likely to be fashion's biggest unanswered questions.
As has been widely rumored since the beginning of the year, Hedi Slimane has officially exited his position as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent.
With the Critical Shopper column apparently back in rotation, today's Thursday Styles offers Jon Caramanica's assessment of the Hedi Slimane-ized Saint Laurent boutique in SoHo. Though it's technically not the flagship which is on 57th Street, it is the city's fullest iteration of the creative director's vision for the brand. As has become his habit, Caramanica brings along a friend, this one a lady who has been steeped in high end retailing, to cover the women's sections of the store, and she seems to be having a ball. While he deems the store "gorgeous," our shopper has slightly less luck when it is his turn to try on the goods and the once friendly service suddenly starts to lag,
I picked a few items I wanted to try on and looked around for our clerk, but his doting days were done. First he was gone, then he served another customer, then he pulled the wrong sizes and forgot to bring out all the items. He offered a follow-up call about jeans that weren’t in stock, but never followed through.
And then the illusion falls away. As a menswear designer, our shopper sees Slimane "mostly knocking off himself," which is not a great place to be when you have only been running the show for two seasons.
Critical Shopper: Bridging a Generation Gap at Saint Laurent By Jon Caramanica (NYTimes)
Saint Laurent 80 Greene Street between Prince & Spring Streets, SoHo
Don't we love it when careless construction crews leave the door open?
Over the weekend, The Shophound got an impromptu look inside the upcoming Saint Laurent boutique on Greene Street in SoHo —just by chance. It was only last week that the company actually confirmed the location by papering the windows with the terse message, "Opening, Saint Laurent, Greene Street" with no specific date, but a photo of the white marble that is becoming a signature of the new Hedi Slimane-designed boutique concept. From what we could see inside through the open doorway, it looks like the store could easily make the May opening that was suggested recently. White marble shelves are already in place, which means that they are in the fixturing stage, so furniture and stock can't be far behind. The signage is even on the front doors already.
Presumably, once this store opens, the main Saint Laurent boutique on 57th Street will close for its own revamping so the city's outlets for the label will be consistent. If you can't wait for an in-person look at the concept, Bergdorf Goodman's in-store Saint Laurent boutiques in both the men's and women's stores are finished and open, so you can go appraise the white marble, black leather and chrome for yourself.
Now we have the final piece of the puzzling story of the shop that was to be a Saint Laurent boutique at 149 Mercer Street. The space, which before it was banished behind misleadingly labeled plywood has held John Varvatos and Napapijri boutiques, will become a Balenciaga men's boutique to complement the flagship store for the label that is under construction across the street at number 148. This will be the brand's first freestanding men's store in the U.S., and, as far as we can tell, possibly in the world. Of course, this makes perfect sense, since Balenciaga, like Yves Saint Laurent, is owned by Kering (formerly known as PPR) which would simplify any lease transfer issues.
Originally set to be opened before Yves Saint Laurent underwent a revamp by new creative director Hedi Slimane, the store was delayed, and delayed, and then ultimately moved to an entirely different space on Greene Street, leaving the fate of the apparently unloved Mercer Street location in question. WWD answered that question for us by casually dropping the bit of information while reporting on the label's Fall advertising campaign. Interestingly, it will also be one of the first new stores from Balenciaga's own closely watched creative revamp under designer Alexander Wang. Hopefully, the store will open concurrently with it's counterpart this Fall.
This week marked Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane's second women's runway show for the label (also known as his second women's runway show for anything, ever) and, as if by magic, managed to monopolize the press with a debates on the merits or lack thereof of his strangely grunge-inspired display. The reception was not warm. Though he had a few supporters, most critics were dismayed that he would go down such a well-worn road while retailers were wondering exactly they could edit from the collection to keep their stores from looking like an overpriced corner of Urban Outfitters. He'll probably be banning a lot more critics than just The Times' Cathy Horyn next season, but all the fuss made us wonder what the hell is going on with the supposedly upcoming Saint Laurent boutique on Mercer Street in SoHo (pictured above) that has been in the works for around two years by now?
Originally, it was slated to open last Spring, but that was when Stefano Pilati was running things at YSL. Then Slimane replaced him as creative director and was reported to be tasked with revamping nearly every aspect of the brand including store design, so it seemed logical that the shop would be pushed back until a new Slimane-approved concept could be developed. We guessed that would have coincided with the launch of the designer's new collections this season. By July, the store's plywood was quietly repainted to reveal the label's redesigned logo to much debate and hand-wringing. By September, a new retail concept was unveiled at a Saint Laurent boutique opening in Shanghai, and we assumed it would next be rolled out to the SoHo store. In fact, we thought the shop was perfectly poised to make its debut with the new collections a month ago during New York Fashion Week, but no such event happened, We passed by the store's site yesterday, and though we couldn't tell if there had been progress on the store's interior, the black painted plywood was now clear of any logos at all. In the meantime, that particular block of Mercer street has only gotten more more exclusive with a new Versace boutique opening last Fall, and an upcoming Balenciaga flagship on the way.
Is this Saint Laurent store ever going to open?
Like many observers, The Shophound has been intrigued but underwhelmed by many of Slimane's creative choices (really? Grunge? In 2013?), but we know that he always has a pervasive, soup-to-nuts vision for his brands. We have been looking forward to seeing what his new store concept looks like in person, especially since when the designer first attracted notice for his work at what was then called the Rive Gauche men's collection, it was shown off in a SoHo YSL boutique not far from where the new one is expected to be unveiled. Perhaps they are having construction issues, or maybe the increasingly persnickety designer doesn't want to open a shop in a space that he did not personally choose? At any rate, we may not have to wait until the SoHo Saint Laurent opens to get a taste of the new store concept. A couple of weeks ago we visited Bergdorf Goodman's recently renovated men's Designer Floor, and noticed that the Saint Laurent space, which had just been unveiled barely six months ago, was under wraps again, presumably to bring the shop-in-shop up to speed with the revamped collection's new sensibility. The Saint Laurent flagship on 57th Street has yet to be fully renovated beyond a new sign, and still reflects the Pilati/Tom Ford era aesthetic, so it may be at Bergdorf's that New York gets its first glimpse of Saint Laurent's latest retail environment.
Previously: Upcoming Rebranding: How's That Yves Saint Laurent Store Coming Along In SoHo? (6/21/2012)
Sneak Previews: Here's A Blink-And-You'll-Miss-It Glimpse Of The New Saint Laurent Logo (7/18/2012)
Okay, we'll admit that we are sort of obsessed with the upcoming relaunching and rebranding of Yves Saint Laurent's boutiques and prêt-à-porter lines under Hedi Slimane's creative direction. Here is the only official-ish picture we have seen so far of the newly restored/revamped Saint Laurent logo that will appear on the apparel and brand the stores. We are pretty sure that it's from August's Vogue Paris which features an extended interview with Slimane including his own photographs. We discovered the image on Nick Wooster's Tumblr. Since last week, the upcoming Saint Laurent boutique in SoHo has also cleaned up its plywood revealing the new logo again (pictured in a slideshow below). Now you can get a look for yourself should you be on Mercer Street between Prince and Houston Streets.
Anyway, make of it what you will. We think it's a pretty cool combination of the original Helvetica logo and the sleek, sans-serif sensibility that is Slimane's signature mixed with a bit of Copperplate "Paris". We are totally on board with it, but plenty of other bloggers and their legions of commenters seem to be scandalized about such disrespectful changes to the house's apparently sacrosanct trademarks.
Ugh, whatever. The famous monogram is still in place on the store, and the original logo will remain on fragrances and other branded merchandise. You'll still be able to call it YSL in case you are worried about it (not SL or SLP, please) but, better yet, just get used to calling it Saint Laurent. For what it's worth, former Yves Saint Laurent chief and co-founder Pierre Bergé is a huge Slimane fan and is reportedly thrilled with what is in store for the brand —and he has consistently been one of the harshest critics of the great couturier's successors. There's no need to be shocked, SHOCKED about it all. The official brand unveiling will come at the Spring 2013 Collections in Paris this October, which is when the press and public will finally get a look at the Slimane-designed women's Resort and men's Spring collections that have already been shown to buyers. Of course should anything leak out before then, we will be all over it, because, as we mentioned earlier, we're obsessed.
A few weeks ago, we heard that new Yves Saint Laurent designer Hedi Slimane has some serious rebranding in the works for his new home label. Since then, fashion bloggers have been all flummoxed about how this might change their world. Slimane will relabel the boutiques and Prêt-à-Porter collections "Saint Laurent Paris" with an approach reminiscent of the original "Saint Laurent Rive Gauche" branding of its 1966 launch. Can we still say YSL? Is it rude to drop the late founding designer's first name from the label? (We don't know. Find a medium and ask Gianni Versace what he thinks about that.)
The Business of Fashion has a detailed overview of the rebranding that should clarify things for those who can't seem to accept the upcoming changes at Saint Laurent. We might suggest they have a few stiff drinks, or perhaps some prescription medication, but that's just us. We promise, it will all turn out OK.
Making Sense of the YSL Retrobranding (The Business of Fashion)
Upcoming Rebranding: How's That Yves Saint Laurent Store Coming Along In SoHo?
• This just in! Prada finally, officially, definitely going public for real. (WWD)
• Is Hedi Slimane ready to rejoin LVMH to finally launch his own label? Time will tell. (DNR)
• Tired of New York Shopping? How 'bout a trip to Rotterdam? (Refinery 29)
• H&M recruits a host of designers and celebrities for an awareness raising "Fashion Against Aids" collection to debut next year. Will this just raise awareness, or contribute to a cure? Exactly who shops at H&M who isn't aware of AIDS? (Style File)
• Procrastinating? Here's an extensive last minute gift guide from a discerning source. (Coolhunting)
• Having trouble finding French made-to-measure shirts? Listerougeimagine.com has come to your rescue. (Material Interest)
• Costco is coming to a mall near you to fill up all those empty May Company spaces. (WWD)
Soon there will be another reason to go shopping way way downtown besides Century 21. Curbed and WWD tell us that Tiffany & Co. will be opening its second New York Store in a 1906 Beaux-Arts tower at 37 Wall Street in April 2007. Heaven knows there's heaps and heaps of dough down there, but so far the notable retail scene has consisted mainly of the aforementioned discounter and business wear stores like Brooks Brothers and Hickey-Freeman. Expect a dramatic presentation as Tiffany will restore as much gilded age grandeur as possible, in efforts to outshine its new neighbor, Hermès which will open at 15 Broad Street next year.
It looks more and more like Hedi Slimane is on his way out at Dior Homme. Belgian designer Kris Van Assche has been tapped to wait in the wings should Slimane bid adieu. An obvious choice, the Belgian Van Assche whose own collection will be four seasons old next month, was assistant to Slimane at both Yves Saint Laurent and Dior, so don't look for a huge change in direction should the scenario actually come to pass. (WWD & Vogue UK)
Bleecker Street hasn't been eclipsed just yet. Mulberry, the British luxury leathergoods house is finally establishing a foothold in the US with its first stateside store at 387 Bleecker opening in August. It will be the only store oustide the UK to offer the Bespoke accessories collection, which allows the customer to chose what color and type of leather they want. Perfect for us because we like things the way we like them!
Is menswear superstar Hedi Slimane ready to bolt from Dior Homme, the line created especially for him to design? Vogue.com UK & Women's Wear Daily report that contract talks have reached an impasse over money (what else?), creative control and a future Slimane women's collection. Is willowy, doe-eyed Slimane a prima donna, or a canny negotiator? We'll find out soon enough, especially if Dior finds itself with a Tom Ford situation.
"The Devil Wears Prada" is the first film to take a 21st-century view of fashion, moving beyond the myth of its practitioners as visionaries, revealing them instead as the exacting functionaries they are: those who live and dress and think according to the seasonal edicts of global conglomerates.
Ouch! We never read the book, but this movie can't open soon enough if only because the sight of Meryl Streep in full-on power bitch mode is a rare and delightful sight to behold.
Is Ralph Lauren making a deal with JC Penney? WWD reports that in his quest to conquer every possible retail channel, Lauren is mulling the prospect of creating an exclusive label for the store that poisoned Halston's career. Satan is sharpening his ice skates as we speak.
And for something completely different, check out our report on Saturday's Anti-Violence Project rally and march on Towleroad.