Who next for Yves Saint Laurent after Slimane departure is confirmed?
Yves Saint Laurent has confirmed long-standing rumours that its creative and image director Hedi Slimane has left the business after four years at the helm. As speculation begins on who will replace him, we look back at the history of creative directors for this iconic house.
This morning Yves Saint Laurent's parent company Kering Group issued a statement to say that Slimane (pictured above) had completed a repositioning of the house and that a new creative organisation would be announced in due course, confirming rumours that have been swirling for months that Slimane's contract would not be renewed.
Chairman and chief executive of Kering François-Henri Pinault said that what the brand had achieved in the past four years represented "a unique chapter in the history of the house". "I am grateful to Hedi Slimane, and the whole Yves Saint Laurent, team for having set the path that the house has successfully embraced and which will grant longevity to this legendary brand," he added.
Slimane's tenure at Yves Saint Laurent has been a commercial, but not always critical success, for the brand and his recent four-year tenure was his second stint at the house. A photographer by background Slimane made his name in fashion in menswear, first as ready-to-wear director for men’s at Yves Saint Laurent, then as creative director of Dior Homme from 2000 to 2007, where he pioneered the slim silhouette that has dominated menswear since.
He returned to Yves Saint Laurent as creative director and image director in March 2012 and subsequently (and not without controversy) dropped the “Yves” from the brand’s name. His AW13 grunge collection divided the critics when he sent models down the runway in over-sized plaid shirts, distressed denim, leather minis and baby doll dresses. He revisited grunge as a theme for Spring 16 using Courtney Love as his muse for a collection that heavily featured slip dresses, tiaras and wellington boots - a clear play for the festival market.
Music has always been a strong influence in Slimane's collections. He broke with show convention for AW16 by showing womenswear in two parts. Part one was shown at the Hollywood Palladium to coincide with the music Grammy Awards while Part two - an eighties-inspired couture show - was shown during Paris Fashion Week. Ironically, given his imminent departure, the shows received high critical acclaim.
The house of Yves Saint Laurent was founded by the designer, whose name it carries, and his lifelong partner Pierre Bergé in 1961. A design revolutionary, Saint Laurent was the first designer to truly champion ready-to-wear and he shocked high society by putting women in trouser suits via the now legendary Le Smoking.
The brand remained popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s but by the early 1990s it had fallen into financial trouble and was sold to pharmaceuticals group Sanofli in 1993. Alber Elbaz, who went on to be creative director at Lanvin (a post he recently departed), designed three ready-to-wear collections for the brand from 1998-1999, while Saint Laurent himself had focused on couture.
Slimane first arrived at the house in 1997 to relaunch the Rive Gauche menswear line but left two years later to go to Dior Homme. The brand was then sold to Gucci (now part of Kering) who installed Tom Ford as creative director of ready-to-wear. His disco-inspired collections in jewel-bright colours won the brand a legion of celebrity fans, though it was believed Saint Laurent himself, who bowed out from designing couture in 2002, did not approve of Ford's appointment.
Ford left in 2004 and was replaced by Stefano Pilati whose aesthetic was closer to Saint Laurent's, who was said to have approved of Pilati as a designer. Saint Laurent passed away from brain cancer in 2008 and, following tumultuous trading at the brand, Pilati was eventually replaced by Slimane in 2012. His appointment was said to have been endorsed by Bergé, who always defended Slimane against his critics.
Speculation has now begun over who will take over the helm at the storied house next. Anthony Vaccarello who is currently heading up Versus for Versace is believed to be the favourite and it is understood that Alber Elbaz, who is now free following his departure from Lanvin, has always hankered to return to the brand.
Saint Laurent's creative directors
1961 - 2002: Yves Saint Laurent (couture only in the latter years)
1998-1999: Alber Elbaz (women's ready-to-wear)
1997-1999: Hedi Slimane (men's Rive Gauche collection)
1999-2004: Tom Ford
2004-2012: Stefano Pilati
2012-2016: Hedi Slimane
2016 - :Anthony Vaccarello?