Back to the Future for YSL

The fashion world has been rocked by the recent news that Hedi Slimane, the new creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, has made the executive decision to rename the fashion house Saint Laurent Paris, thus taking it from YSL to SLP. When thinking about writing this post, I was determined to put a negative spin on it and point out all the reasons why it’s bad. But research, and time to mull it over, have changed my opinion altogether.

As it turns out, Yves Saint Laurent opened his first ready-to-wear boutique under the name Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and only added Yves when he started making couture. So rather than changing the house and taking it in an entirely different direction, Hedi Slimane is actually taking the house back to its roots. This is very positive, especially as Yves Saint Laurent was a bold designer who broke fashion rules and changed the face of the fashion world, paving the way for the innovation we have now. There are 3 examples of just how he did this: firstly, Yves Saint Laurent was the first couturier to create a ready-to-wear line in 1966 (Saint Laurent Rive Gauche). Secondly, he was an early champion of the trouser suit for women, becoming known for ‘le smoking’ which is the YSL equivalent of the Chanel little black dress, thus consolidating the relatively recent idea (at the time) that femininity is not confined to skirts and dresses, and it gave women the option of a new, elegant, liberating way to dress smartly. A woman in a tuxedo will always stand out from the crowd and look effortless and chic.  On top of this, YSL was also the first designer to use black models in his Parisian catwalk shows. If the reversion to the old name of the house brings about more breakthroughs like these, then it can only be positive, not only for the YSL brand, but also for the fashion world.

Dropping the Yves may also turn out to be a good thing in the long run for the couture element of the house. The  YSL couture house was shut down in 2002 due to criticisms of the designs. A new name may bring about a new era of YSL (or should I say SLP) couture, and that is something we can only look forward to and hope for!

All in all, whilst the name change may not seem necessary for such a widely recognised fashion house, there are definite positive connotations that go with it. I for one look forward to seeing if Slimane can live up to the boldness of the man who created the original Saint Laurent brand and can follow in his footsteps by breaking the rules of the fashion world for the better.

‘Le Smoking’ – photograph by Helmut Newton

Spring 2008 Ready-to-Wear

Prefall 2010

Prefall 2012

Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear


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