Many fashion industry insiders have attempted to identify what exactly the legacy of Hedi Slimane, the man who served as the creative director of Yves Saint Laurent until just this past week, is. Most, as led by the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman, have decided that his 4-year long tenure at the Paris-based design house, has set a “dangerous precedent” as to how long creatives are expected to stay in a position (and what this means given the current state of the industry).
This makes quite a bit of sense, as Slimane’s departure marks the third of its short-tenured kind of late. Interestingly, though, few have looked at his legacy in terms of the controversial re-branding of the house, which began in 2012 with a name change. As you likely recall, when Hedi Slimane joined the Paris-based design house Yves Saint Laurent last year as its creative director, one of his first official tasks (other than moving the house’s design center to Los Angeles) was rebranding the house and thus, changing the name of the RTW collection from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent.
Immediately after the name change, which many industry insiders slammed as a move of pure blasphemy, confusion ensued as to what exactly the name change extended to and mass emails from YSL (or SLP as some have since begin to refer to it) started to flow with corrections to the effect of: “The House is referred to as ‘Yves Saint Laurent.’
The ready-to-wear collection by Hedi Slimane is correctly referred to as ‘Saint Laurent.’ (‘Saint Laurent Paris’ is used in the logo but not when spoken/written about the collection). Collection credits, should you photograph any items, are correctly written ‘Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane.’” Not surprisingly, such efforts by YSL’s public relations team did not really help to achieve many confusion-related dilemmas.
Case in point that the name change is still confusing to just about everyone: The Wikipedia page for Slimane says that he “is currently the creative director for Saint Laurent (formerly Yves Saint Laurent).” Example number 2: Gilt Groupe is currently offering for sale “YSL High Top Sneakers,” and Luisa Via Roma is selling the same pair of sneakers, except they’re called the “Saint Laurent Leather High Top Sneakers.” Example number 3: Neiman Marcus is offering both Yves Saint Laurent and Saint Laurent footwear.
In case that’s not enough, there are the many that are not-entirely-sure about the name change (and we don’t blame them) and thus, writing articles that bear titles, such as “What Is the Deal With Yves Saint Laurent’s Logo?” FYI – the house’s logo is still YSL. Saint Laurent, the collection, has adopted a logo based on its shortened name.
However, to confuse everyone, Saint Laurent sells the “Saint Laurent Classic YSL Logo Clutch” and the Grand Palais hangs YSL banners outside of the Saint Laurent runway shows. In other words, I think it is safe to say that YSL or Yves Saint Laurent or Saint Laurent’s PR department still has its fair share of work to do.
Note: To complicate things even further, the house, under the direction of Slimane, officially reintroduced its couture collection, just last month, after an announcement in July 2015 and a subsequent lookbook release. The couture collection’s name: Yves Saint Laurent couture. In connection with the relaunch, a press release from the house read: “Hedi determines which of these pieces will carry the atelier’s hand-sewn couture label ‘Yves Saint Laurent,'” because that won’t confuse anyone.
Furthermore, note the recent couture campaign, which lists the name: “Saint Laurent La Collection de Paris.” At this point, the house appears to be breaking its own rules regarding monikers, unless the couture collection really does fall under the ready-to-wear name, which seems odd and erroneous, no?
Not surprisingly, as of the time of publication, most fashion sites were still widely misusing the brand’s name. For instance, most of the industry’s popular fashion blogs continued to refer to the house as a whole as Saint Laurent. Mainstream news publications are similarly confused; just a few weeks ago, one ran an article, entitled: “A 1980s homage for Saint Laurent’s Couture show.” Wikipedia is still confused, as it lists the house’s name as “Yves Saint Laurent YSL; also known as Saint Laurent Paris.”
Legally, the house retains the Yves Saint Laurent SAS moniker, and retains the aura of confusion, which began from day one until the day Slimane left.