After much speculation, today it’s officially confirmed Hedi Slimane, the four-year-long creative and image director of Saint Laurent, will be exiting the French fashion house. The announcement came in the form of a joint statement from Saint Laurent and Kering, its parent group, ending the circulating rumors and commemorating all that Mr. Slimane has accomplished.
“What Yves Saint Laurent has achieved over the past four years represents a unique chapter in the history of the house,” said François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of Kering, according to BoF. “I am very 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.”
The 47-year-old scene maker’s contract expired Thursday, making Saint Laurent’s fall ’16 presentation his final bow: a glamorous ’80s-inspired collection that played off Slimane’s longtime love of music culture, ironically staged with no accompanying soundtrack. He’s always been a rule breaker, and this closing display was the ultimate wrench to his signature West Coast ’70s glam-rock look—the trademark attitude he became known for purveying each season.
Saint Laurent Fall ’16
Following his chapter as Dior Homme’s menswear designer from 2000 to 2007, Slimane took control of Saint Laurent in 2012 by dropping the “Yves” from its ready-to-wear name, redesigning its logo and establishing an aesthetic that resonated with consumers, despite being a constant point of criticism among fashion insiders. Under Slimane, Saint Laurent became a commercial success, reporting about $1.14 billion in revenue for 2015—a 38 percent increase from 2014—and accounting for 12 percent of sales by Kering’s luxury brands. This is, in part, due to Slimane’s strong transition into leather goods, which accounted for approximately half of the house’s sales last year.
“The direction that has been taken over the last four years represents an incredible foundation for the brand to build on for its continuous success,” said Francesca Bellettini, president and chief executive officer of Saint Laurent, who thanked Slimane for his “vision in reforming such an iconic house.”
Today’s news follows departures at other major fashion houses, including Raf Simons from Dior and Alber Elbaz from Lanvin—evidence of a shifting industry, indeed. While Slimane hasn’t yet made an official statement regarding his exit, there have been market reports about who might fill his position and become Saint Laurent’s sixth designer.
Anthony Vaccarello fall ’16
Italian-Belgian talent Anthony Vaccarello has been largely suggested as being Slimane’s most promising successor, though he had “no comment” about the buzz during his fall ’16 presentation. After landing in Paris’ fashion scene five years ago, his sexy approach peaked the interest of Donatella Versace, who hired him as creative director of her prized brand, Versus Versace. Some have argued his clothes are too single-minded, as Vogue’s Nicole Phelps points out, but their sultry, confident attitude just might be the perfect solution to a post-Slimane void at Saint Laurent.
Though Mr. Slimane’s future is not clearly defined, at least publicly, the rare photographer and designer will likely shy away from media attention and remain fittingly low key in his preferred home, Los Angeles: the unlikely starry eyed city that became synonymous with Saint Laurent during his esteemed reign.