Hedi Slimane Explains His Approach to Saint Laurent's History

When Hedi Slimane first took over as creative director for Saint Laurent, there were many who disagreed with his quick re-branding of the label. Those who were against the move felt he was not taking the label's long history into account, but now Slimane has explained that what he changed about the fashion house was with the founder's vision distinctly in mind. He commented: "Historically, Yves decided with Pierre in 1966 to name his revolutionary ready-to-wear 'Saint Laurent Rive Gauche.' Yves wanted a clear dichotomy with his couture, and chose Helvetica font for the new label. It was for him a distinctive sign of modernity, and a drastic change from the Couture label. In the interviews Yves gave for the launch of Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, we can feel his determination to change the format and values of Ready-to-Wear Fashion next to his Haute Couture."  

He felt the name change was a good idea despite the critics who were against it: "I believe the restoration of the name “Saint Laurent” was the only right thing to do, despite the irrational reactions surrounding my first year, ironically a blessing in disguise that unexpectedly gave all the publicity that was needed for my project. Naturally, I couldn’t possibly imagine that going back to the historical and most respectful roots of Yves would create such a polemic." 

 He previously worked at the fashion house when Yves was still alive and remembers the designer's charisma, shyness and passion for design: "Yves was really shy, and I was way younger and quite impressed by his elegance, aura and kindness. I am also a photographer, and I keep a vibrant souvenir of the portraits of him I missed, stuck forever in my head. I remember Yves’ attitude when we were discussing men’s fashion in the Deco Salon of Avenue Marceau. Yves had a very specific way to hold his cigarette and move, wearing an impeccable double-breasted brown suit from Charvet."

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