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Got a Migraine, Slimane?

April 29, 2013

FashionLondon | by Danny & Josh



Looking back at the history of the world-renowned brand Yves Saint Laurent, we see elegance, style and something that represents a revolution in fashion. After all, this is the label which is known for creating the tuxedo suit for women. However, when we look at Saint Laurent (notice the lack of Yves) in 2013, it’s safe to say we are speechless – is the legacy of Yves Saint Laurent over?


With Slimane taking over at the helm last year, his changing the name of the label as well as the recent AW13 collection, it is arguable that Saint Laurent is a whole new brand altogether. Though it is understandable that it must be difficult to live up to Pilati’s legacy at the brand, we can’t help but wonder where the whole ‘teenage-rock-and-roll’ theme came from. It’s obvious that Slimane was heading for a grunge look, in homage to the late Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.


Recently, Saint Laurent has been releasing campaign photos that again, speak out as if advertising for a whole different brand. We’ve seen Marilyn Manson (perhaps the greatest shock) and Courtney Love alongside faces we all love, such as English rose Edie Campbell, looking decidedly less demure than usual. Though we have discovered that some people actually like the images, as we absorb the brand’s recent collaboration with band Daft Punk, it seems that Saint Laurent really is a new brand entirely.




When the collection was released at PFW in February, Slimane and YSL were both top trends on the twitterverse, as fashion lovers all tried to make sense of what they had just witnessed. Harsh criticism hit, but it couldn’t really be helped;


Women’s Wear Daily reports that Saint Laurent is relocating their Paris studios. Hopefully they don’t tell Hedi where they’re going.”


After the astonishing, but not so surprising negative response from the public on the web, many were quick to defend Slimane’s actions as other’s were to attack him, with some claiming it was his version of ‘a tribute to 90s rock and roll’. This may be so, but was it really the right move for Saint Laurent? The knicker shorts, checkered shirts and biker boots may well have been inspired by 90s grunge, but they were definitely not appropriate for a label such as Saint Laurent. It could be that Slimane had a case of severe amnesia, where he must have forgotten which brand he was working for…




However, we can’t be too quick to judge Sliman’s actions. As Leandra Medine, better known as The Man Repeller fairly pointed out on her blog, “In Alicia Drake’s book, The Beautiful Fall, a wonderful portrayal mirroring the careers of Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent in 1970s, Saint Laurent is credited as having popularized ready-to-wear in 1966 as a means to “democratize fashion.” Lest we forget, Yves Saint Laurent invented Le Smoking–a novel nod to androgynous dressing that maintained the antiquated spirit of feminine elegance.”


Despite all the criticism that hit, you could argue that the collection wasn’t that bad. It seems that more fans were appalled by the fact that it just wasn’t the YSL that we all know and love…


With this in mind, we’re left to ask; what’s next for Saint Laurent? Most of us still struggle to drop the ‘Yves’ when in discussion about the brand, but with all these drastic changes having been dropped on us, it seems we may be forced to do so, in an attempt not to tarnish the preferred name of the once elegant brand. However, we can’t deny we’re curious to see what Slimane has up his sleeve for the next collection. Will he continue to attempt to try and target a wider audience, or will he stick to the YSL we all know? If he were to do so, it has to be asked – is there any going back? Let us just remember that Marc Jacobs made his name in a similar way back when he was slaughtered for his grunge collection for Perry Ellis. As there is no guessing whatsoever what could be next for Saint Laurent, we can say with more assurance than ever that it most definitely ain’t Laurent without Yves.


Marium Ul-Haq

Illustrations by Scott Mason