We knew this would be happening at some point, but the big Saint Laurent flagship store on east 57th Street is finally about to get the full Hedi Slimane treatment. Now that the SoHo store and three in-store shops at Saks and Bergdorf's (Men's and Women's) have been fully Slimane-ified, they are, apparently, finally getting around to bringing the boutique at 3 East 57th Street up to aesthetic code and having the official store design installed. Regular customers won't have too much trouble finding Saint Laurent's temporary home. It's just on the other side of Fifth Avenue at 3 West 57th Street (above), in the same place that so many other Midtown boutiques (Coach, Chanel, Burberry etc.) have used during their own renovations, but before Saint Laurent moves in, it needs its own sprucing up before it will be suitable to house the super-persnickety designer's collections.
Of course, the least interesting part of this whole scenario is how the permanent Saint Laurent store will look after its makeover. We can pretty much picture it right now, because all Saint Laurent retail spaces look exactly the same now, just as if they were Starbucks or 7-Elevens. We can safely predict that there will be lots of white and black marble with glass and chrome, and probably some boxy, minimalistic black leather upholstered furniture. We like to think that maybe they will surprise us with some unique design touches, but we aren't holding our breath.
Some people are so touchy.
Now that Hedi Slimane has settled in as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, and his collections are selling well, his famous temper has not cooled. The latest object of his ire is not a critical fashion writer, however, but the influential Paris boutique Colette, which has been selling millions of dollars worth of YSL merchandise since 1998 through a string of designers for the house's various labels including Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford, Stefano Pilati and Slimane's original tenure as mens's designer for what was then the Rive Gauche collection. "We have been excommunicated," the store's creative director Sarah Andleman tells WWD, “There is no respect for all the work we did in the past.”
Slimane's famous wrath was incurred by a spoof t-shirt by the brand Reason Clothing that reads "Ain't Laurent Without Yves" printed in the style of the brand's logo (pictured above), and makes light of Slimane's controversial decision to rename the company's pret-à-porter collections simply "Saint Laurent Paris". As a "concept store" dedicated to mixing cutting edge style with venerable brands, Colette has been known for cheeky merchandise, and has also carried other t-shirts featuring the street style trend of mocking precious luxury brands like Hermès and Céline without any repercussions from other labels. Reportedly, the store was contacted by Saint Laurent representatives last month and complied when requested to remove the offending shirt form the store's website. Apparently that was not enough to mollify the folks at Saint Laurent whose CEO later informed Andleman by letter that she was damaging the brand by selling "counterfeit" merchandise, all outstanding merchandise orders, including those for next Spring, were being cancelled, and that she was disinvited from the Saint Laurent Spring 2014 runway show which took place last night.
Particularly miffed as a supporter of not only Saint Laurent, but also Slimane's tenure as designer of Dior Homme, Andleman went public because she felt that as a smaller, independent retailer, she was being singled out, and called it an example of the way luxury brands were exerting increasing power over the actions of third party retailers like herself. She noted that other, bigger European stores like Brown's, Selfridges and LuisaViaRoma also sold parody t-shirts without apparently being punished. “I am really shocked because it’s just a T-shirt,” she tells WWD. “There’s no doubt that it’s not a Saint Laurent product.”
Unsurprisingly, representatives for Saint Laurent have declined to comment.
As a target for Hedi Slimane's merciless anger, Colette is in good company. The New York Times' principal fashion critic Cathy Horyn remains persona non-grata at Saint Laurent as per Slimane's orders. Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion writer Robin Givhan, whose return to runway reporting for New York Magazine's The Cut blog has been a must-read this season, delivered a scathing assessment of Slimane's Spring 2014 collection today calling it "a sucker punch to sophistication; a jab at the very meaning of luxury, a humorless impersonation of cool. And worst of all, it was ugly." Obviously aware of how Horyn's earlier expression of her opinions cost her entry to Saint Laurent, Givhan doesn't seem to care much if this is the last collection designed by Hedi Slimane she ever reviews.
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
SAMPLE SALE CIRCUIT:
Get Up Early For Diane von Furstenberg and YSL (Including the Y)
One More Shot At Helmut Lang
One More Shot At Helmut Lang
It's going to be a hot week , so wear comfortable clothing when ou are lining up for this week's two Major Sale Events. If you haven't become accustomed to seeing them, expect some more epic lines outside 260 Fifth Avenue starting on Tuesday when DIANE von FURSTENBERG (image at right) finally opens the Sample Sale that everyone thought she was planning to forgo this season. If you can bide your time until Friday, Soiffer Haskin will present one more YVES SAINT LAURENT sale which has been known to create epic lines down West 33rd Street. Expectations should be managed for this one. Note the inclusion of the "Yves" in Soiffer Haskin's notices, meaning that this sale will probably primarily include the Fall 2012 collection —the final one designed by Stefano Pilati and the last to include the classic YSL label. Many sources around the web have commented that the last YSL sale only included up to Spring 2012, so this will most likely be a final clearing out of the previous design team's stock, which will be good for lingering fans of Tribute shoes and Muse bags. However, it's also worth noting that new Hedi Slimane designed "Saint Laurent" labeled shoes and accessories have been showing up recently on Flash Sale sites like RueLaLa, so it's not impossible that some newer merchandise might be included. It has been presumed that new creative director Slimane would not continue with these types of extravaganza sample sales, but we won't know until this weekend for sure. We must also note that Soiffer Haskin announced that they will be checking cellphones at this sale along with bags and outerwear, which seems pointless and inappropriate, but whatever.
Also, if you missed the recent spate of sales from Theory-owned labels, you have another shot starting this Tuesday as yet another (and reportedly better) HELMUT LANG sale begins in SoHo. Indie designer fans can look out for sales from ERIN FETHERSTON, LAUREN MOFFATT especially with shoes from MATT BERNSON and RACHEL COMEY. Elegant Gentlemen can look out for impeccably tailored italian clothes from ISAIA starting on Tuesday. If you are n ambitious home-chef who is totally done buying clothes for the season, you will want to check out the ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS sale starting Wednesday at Chelsea Market which has become an exceptional resource for the brand's fine quality German steel kitchen knives and other cookware. Typical offerings range from the affordable entry level lines to hand-forged, high quality limited edition items and professional Japanese chef's supplies. It's a worthwhile change of pace, especially for kitchen enthusiasts.
Keep an eye on our always-updating SALE ROLL sidebar to the left for details and breaking sales.
When Hedi Slimane began transforming the Yves Saint Laurent brand, many of New York's sample sale shoppers wondered if it would mean the end of the hyper-popular YSL sample sale that put so many Tribute pumps and Muse bags on the feet and in the hands of bargain hunters. The folks at Mizhattan have alerted us that there will indeed be a YSL sample sale once again at Soiffer-Haskin for three days at the end of this month. it will offer Women's clothing, shoes, handbags, small leather goods and jewelry and a "limited selection of Men's clothing" according to Soiffer Haskin's website listing. This sale has been noted for its epic lines and extra aggressive shoppers once inside as it is one of the few bona fide Parisian couture houses that offers a regular sample sale in New York that is freely promoted to the public.
A few caveats:
The sale is listed as "Yves Saint Laurent" on Soiffer Haskin's website rather than using the updated "Saint Laurent, Paris" moniker and logo now on the labels. Skeptics may wonder if this means that what will be offered is leftover merchandise from the Pre-Slimane era. The house's new designer has kept production tighter, and added "permanent" merchandise to the label's offerings to avoid having to turn over basic styles season after season. In addition, he has heightened the brand's sense of exclusivity, which would seem to preclude this kind of high-profile clearance, but we shall see what is being offered next weekend. Either this is your opportunity to get ahold of some new era Saint Laurent, or one last chance to grab your favorite YSL handbag before they are completely unavailable and you have to resort to eBay. See our SALE ROLL at left for more details.
Yves Saint Laurent Sample Sale (Soiffer Haskin)
The Saint Laurent boutique on Greene Street in SoHo is finally open for all to visit. As we predicted, the label has released official photos of the store, and in typically peculiar Hedi Slimane style, the images depict the store in black and white and entirely devoid of merchandise.
Yeah, weird —especially since the space really comes to life when it is stocked, but then perhaps he just wants it to be seen as undead. Who can say?
At any rate, in the gallery above, you can see the soaring ceiling, a hint of the dressing room skylights, the original painted, pressed tin ceiling and the dramatic marble walls. As we saw earlier, the store is currently featuring the label's basic "Permanent" collections for men and women, along with Fall 2013 samples for pre-order. It will reportedly be the first door to receive the Pre-Fall collection sometime this month
It doesn't officially open until Tuesday when the window coverings will come down, but The Shophound got inside the long-awaited and much-discussed Saint Laurent boutique in SoHo over the weekend, and whatever anyone might think about the Hedi Slimane version of the brand, we can confidently say that it is one fabulous boutique.
While we would love our readers to be under the impression that we were specially invited for a preview, the store actually had a "soft" opening over the weekend (while it awaited "full, final approval", we were told), and though the windows were still covered, a doorman was happily admitting pretty much any schmo who wanted to come inside. And also us. Here's what we learned:
- There's a good reason why the store was moved from Mercer Street to its current space on Greene Street.
It's simply a better space. It's not surprising that parent company Kering (formerly PPR) would invest the resources to move the store's site for one of it's flagship luxury labels. It's worth it. The same design elements in Slimane's store concept would have looked perfectly impressive in the previous, smaller, lower-ceilinged shop (which will now be converted to a men's store for Kering's other celebrated couture house, Balenciaga), but they look much more striking in a bigger space. You will see the same white silk marble, square chrome racks and fixtures in Saint Laurent shop-in-shops at Bergdorf's and Saks, but they really sing on a grander scale here, where one entire wall is fitted with marble paneling and shelves running its entire length containing meticulously arranged shoes and accessories. One monumental double rack for women's clothes, another for men's and two tall glass cases for more accessories round out the rest of the fixtures leaving lots of airy space. It is all very crisp and pristine which would be intimidating if it weren't the case that...
- The staff is lovely and welcoming.
As most New York shoppers know, this is not always what one finds in the city's designer boutiques. When we said that any schmo was welcome in the store, we might have been suggesting that perhaps on an unseasonably hot and humid 85° Sunday afternoon, The Shophound might not have been looking our most elegant. Nobody seemed to care, and the salespeople were personable and engaging, casually joking about how long it took to finally get the store finished and open, and swiftly offering us water. As we turned to head out, one staffer stopped us to make sure we had seen that...
- The dressing rooms are remarkable.
Spacious and skylit, they are fitted with a sleek gray velvet covered chair and seven or eight-way mirrors so you will be able to how everything looks from absolutely every angle —even if you may not want to. Also...
- It turns out that Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent collections look better in person than they do on the runway.
And the store makes an excellent setting for them. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the merchandise is fully in yet. The racks were mostly filled with samples from the Fall 1023 collections to pre-reserve, but the shelves were well stocked with handbags and shoes, which is probably what they are expecting to sell more of anyway. Are $350 printed t-shirts going to save the brand? Time will tell, but we are guessing that the black $545 boat shoes with white soles are probably being copied (or, rightfully, copied back) at this very moment by Sperry Top-Sider, or at least they should be.
Unfortunately, it wasn't possible for us to get any sneaky photos of the new store. We added the images below from the YSL website to show a basic idea of the store's design elements, but they are from a different boutique. Photos will be taken in the next few days, and we will be sure to link to them as soon as they show up on line. We are guessing that, with this store finished, an even grander revamp is likely in the works soon for the 57th Saint Laurent Street flagship, of course, "soon" is a relative term these days at Saint Laurent with any number of twists along the way.
Saint Laurent Paris 80 Greene Street between Spring & Broome Streets, SoHo
BOUTIQUE WATCH: Saint Laurent SoHo Getting Ready To Open Any Day Now
It might not be making its reported May opening date, but the Saint Laurent boutique on Greene Street is thisclose to opening. The gold letters are above the door, and when The Shophound breezed by this morning we caught a glimpse of clothes going on racks through a briefly opened door —too brief, alas, to gather photographic proof, but you know we wouldn't make this up. It looks like the store might be open by this weekend if they're fast, and easily next weekend as long as they have enough new merchandise. Stay tuned!
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.
Also in today's New York Times is an appraisal by Eric Wilson of Hedi Slimane's first year as Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent which casually drops the morsel of information that the Saint Laurent boutique originally meant to open many months ago on Mercer Street will be ready to receive customers next month at the 80 Greene Street address that was identified a couple of weeks ago. It is reported to be part of a duo of openings that also includes a restyled flagship on the Avenue Montaigne in Paris featuring Slimane's updated retail concept for the brand which will also be seen in the Saint Laurent boutiques currently under construction in Bergdorf Goodman's Men's and Women's stores.
The Shophound has been following the tortured progress of this long-in-gestation boutique for a while now, and this answers our final question, which was: When will it open? While May' markdowns make it a slightly odd time to open a designer boutique —March and September are optimal months— theoretically, it should be in time to debut the label's pre-Fall collection. As for the new Saint Laurent branded merchandise for this season, Wilson reports that deliveries have been slow and skimpy, but what has come in has sold well despite the prickly critical responses to Slimane's first two runway shows. With a lavish new showcase in what once was designer Helmut Lang's ultimately ill-fated shrine to his somewhat similar style of sleek, severe fashion, the pressure will mount for the designer to bring things up to speed. As usual, we'll be watching.
Mr. Provocative By Eric Wilson (NYTimes)
Coming Soon... Sort Of: Saint Laurent's SoHo Saga Continues