King of rock star chic Hedi Slimane leaves YSL

1st April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Designer Hedi Slimane -- the man credited with creating the skinny jeans look -- has left the French fashion label Yves Saint Laurent Friday after four years at the brand.

His departure, the latest in a merry-go-round of changes at the top of French fashion, was announced by YSL's parent group Kering which said he had given the label back "its authority".

One of the hottest properties in fashion, Slimane remade the brand in his own rock 'n' roll image.

He drew a starry fan club of celebrity customers including Lady Gaga, Kate Hudson, Demi Moore and Justin Bieber.

In a cryptic goodbye message on Twitter, the designer -- a talented photographer -- posted a picture of the fashion house's co-founder Pierre Berge in a mirror.

In what now seems a highly symbolic gesture, he kissed the late Yves Saint Laurent's partner after presenting his final show for the label last month in Paris before disappearing backstage.

Slimane's exit has been long predicted, with clear signs for some time that all was not well despite rocketing profits.

The 47-year-old Parisian was accused by some of denigrating Saint Laurent's hallowed legacy with his grungy rock star chic inspired by the American west coast music scene.

- High-profile departures -

The hugely-influential Women's Wear Daily was scathing about his last collection for the label, a full-throttle revival of 1980s glam that it judged gave "the finger" to YSL's traditions.

Others, however, praised him for revolutionising the brand which had been in danger of stagnating.

Such is Slimane's hold on the fashion imagination that Chanel boss Karl Lagerfeld even admitted to losing weight to squeeze into his skinny jeans.

The Belgium designer Anthony Vaccarello, who recently brought his racy look to Versace's Versus brand, is said to be the favourite to replace Slimane.

French fashion has been shaken by series of high-profile departures over the last year, with Dior still without a creative director after Raf Simons left.

Industry insiders have long claimed that talks on renewing Slimane's contract had stalled, with the designer snubbing the Paris catwalk to hold his last menswear show in his adopted home of Los Angeles.

The star-studded "Saint Laurent at the Palladium" event in February was billed as his tribute the city, whose rock and social scene he has documented on his photo blog "Hedi Slimane's Diary".

- 'Holistic reform' -

However, Kering chief executive Francois-Henri Pinault paid tribute to Slimane Friday. "(What) Yves Saint Laurent has achieved over the past four years represents a unique chapter in the history of the House.

"I am very grateful to Hedi Slimane, and the whole Yves Saint Laurent team, for having set the path... which will grant longevity to this legendary brand."

Profits have skyrocketed since Slimane has been in charge, with revenue doubling as he gave the haute couture brand a street style edge.

Revenues rose 37.4 percent to 287 million euros ($318 million) in the last quarter, making Saint Laurent one of the fastest-growing European houses.

"A new creative organisation for the house will be communicated in due course," Kering said in a statement.

"Since March 2012, under the creative helm of Hedi Slimane, the house has enjoyed a holistic reform that has brought back its utmost modernity and fashion authority, while keeping alive and respecting the original vision of Mr Saint Laurent.

"This repositioning has granted a new life and a new story to one of the most important French couture houses, with undisputed success."

© 2016 AFP

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