King of rock star chic Hedi Slimane leaves YSL

1st April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Designer Hedi Slimane -- the man credited with reviving skinny jeans -- left Yves Saint Laurent Friday after revolutionising the French fashion label with his rock star chic look.

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 four years in charge in his own rock 'n' roll image.

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

He drew a starry fan club of celebrity customers including Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Amal Clooney, Jared Leto 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 -- who gave him his first big break -- after presenting his final show for the label last month in Paris before disappearing backstage.

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 -

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, saw the show as a triumph and praised him for revolutionising the brand best known for its founder's fine tailoring and which had been in danger of stagnating.

In contrast, Slimane's appeal rests on his hugely popular biker jackets, skinny jeans and shoes styles worn by musicians ranging from Mick Jagger and David Bowie to Daft Punk and The Libertines.

His massively influential skinny look first hit the catwalks after he took over the menswear range at Christian Dior in 2000.

Such was the designer's hold on the fashion imagination that Chanel boss Karl Lagerfeld even admitted to losing weight to squeeze into his 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 a series of high-profile departures over the last year, with Dior still without a creative director after Raf Simons left.

Commentators have blamed the high turnover on the massive pressure now on designers to produce more and more collections, with many including Slimane, also having their own personal lines.

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 to the American city, whose rock and social scene he has documented on his photo blog "Hedi Slimane's Diary".

- Rocketing profits -

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.

"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."



© 2016 AFP

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