Don't hold your breath for that Yves Saint Laurent store on Mercer Street to open anytime soon. Yesterday, the folks at Racked did a survey of the upcoming luxury boutiques in SoHo and found Tiffany's store to be on track for Fall, while Balenciaga's showed activity but an indeterminate opening date. Yves Saint Laurent, however remained padlocked with no apparent activity. The original plywood decoration indicated an early 2012 opening, but that ship has obviously sailed, and it was planned before the recent creative switchover from designer Stefano Pilati to returning favorite Hedi Slimane. Now it reads simply, "Opening Soon", and also sports some graffiti (above), suggesting that it has not been receiving much attention lately. It would be unrealistic to think that the company would open a new store reflecting a design concept sure to be rendered obsolete almost immediately.
Today's WWD reports that Slimane, whose upcoming Women's Resort and Men's Spring collections are to be kept under wraps and shown only to select retailers until after the Women's Spring Prêt-à-Porter collection is shown this Fall, is devising a major revamp for the brand. Changes are said to include a renaming of the label from "Yves Saint Laurent" to "Saint Laurent Paris", and while the iconic, Cassandre designed "YSL" insignia is expected to remain a part of the brand's image, Slimane is believed to be developing new logos for the house as well as developing new store design concepts. Reportedly, the returning designer, who was given “total creative responsibility for the brand image and all its collections”, is looking to signal a new era for the brand but also looking to recapture some of the excitement of the label's history. It's worth noting that the YSL Ready-to-Wear collections were originally called "Saint Laurent Rive Gauche" with a distinctly different logo.
Given that bit of news, we don't expect the SoHo Saint Laurent shop to open before Slimane has a new store concept set —certainly not before next Spring at the earliest. How fashion fans will react to new branding remains to be seen. There's no word as to whether this rebranding will extend to the YSL fragrance and cometic lines, but if anyone has anything critical to say about the new name, the first person to weigh in will probably be former YSL chief Pierre Bergé. He has not been known to mince words regarding Slimane's predecessors in the creative role at YSL, so brace yourselves for some pointed opinions one way or the other.
After WWD's report, an Yves Saint Laurent spokesperson officially clarified Hedi Slimane's rebranding plan. The designer is looking to return the house to the branding and logo scheme of 1966, the year that Yves Saint Laurent launched his Rive Gauche Prêt-à-Porter collection, “restoring the house to its truth, purity and essence — and taking it into a new era” while “respecting the original principles and ideals.”
The Rive Gauche name is not expected to return, so the line will be called "Saint Laurent Paris" but using the 1966 fonts and graphics, similar to the vintage logo below:
The original Yves Saint Laurent logo and YSL insignia, created in 1961 at the inception of the house, will continue to be used "institutionally" and when appropriate as they were in 1966 when the full name label was reserved for the now defunct Haute Couture collection. (Could Slimane be planning to revive YSL Couture? Let's not get ahead of ourselves.) The new graphic are expected to be well in place when Slimane's official relaunch collections for Spring-Summer 2013 hit the selling floors.
The new/old scheme could be seen as a window to Slimane's concept for the brand. While Stefano Pilati focused on a modernist, sometimes minimalist interpretation of the Saint Laurent look, Slimane appears to be more interested in looking at the label's more colorful, sometime exuberant side. Will the SoHo boutique resemble the classic Rive Gauche look with chrome, mirrors and liberal helping of black and red lacquered detailing? Looks like we will find out sometime next year.