Bertrand on Brand
Can YSL be the Same Without ‘Yves’? Hedi Slimane Says, Absolutely.
Poor Yves Saint Laurent has been forced to go the way of Madonna and countless others who felt that one name was enough.
Hedi Slimane, recently hired to head the legendary design house (following a dramatic reshuffling of designers there and at Dior and Jil Sander) has reportedly decided that it’s time to rebrand YSL, making it just “Saint Laurent Paris.”
While this has occurred similarly at other fashion houses — most notably Dior — some have opined that with the namesake having only passed away 5 years ago, the sudden change is a bit premature.
YSL’s new designer, Hedi Slimane, has decided to change the name of the brand to “Saint Laurent Paris.”
Slimane, who until recently had been enjoying a career as a photographer in Los Angeles, has for years been catnip for executives at the major luxury groups, ever since he resigned from his post at Dior Homme. Quiet and enigmatic, Slimane is credited with being the inspiration for Karl Lagerfeld to slim down so as to fit into Dior Homme’s razor thin suits. In 2007 Slimane “retired” from fashion at the age of 39.
The designer in front of one of his first boutiques in the early 1970s. The brand originally began as simply “Saint Laurent.”
Now the designer is back in the spotlight and appears to be wasting little time in flexing his muscles at the very brand where he got his start (thanks to Pierre Bergé), and comes with two demands: that he work almost exclusively from Los Angeles and that the brand’s signature be modified back to what he calls its “original branding.”
It is true that back in the day, the brand was indeed only known as “Saint Laurent Paris”(just check some of your favorite vintage pieces for evidence.)
Bergé for his part seems to find nothing wrong with any of Slimane’s intentions and supports the designer’s changes – and wastes little time jabbing his predecessors. “I’m very happy,” said Bergé, in an interview with Vogue. “Anything that makes the house more Saint Laurent is welcome. I am happy that Stefano Pilati is gone, just as I was happy when Tom Ford left.”
Gee Pierre, don’t hold back.
The truth is, brands do naturally tend to become simplified as time goes on, although few make an actual wholesale change to their brand identity. However Federal Express did become FedEx which then became FedEx Kinkos. British Petroleum became BP. And Hennes and Mauritz became H&M.
Somehow this monogram (courtesy of racked.com) lacks something and it unfortunately brings to mind SJP — Sarah Jessica Parker.
In the case of YSL, Slimane is simply taking the brand back to its historic roots, to its essence. Just as we don’t mention Christian when we speak of Dior or Jeanne when we refer to Lanvin, the last name becomes the ne plus ultra: the idea that there is no one else we could possibly be referring to other than Saint Laurent, the Saint Laurent.
I believe with this minimalist approach, the brand becomes more pure and allows a richer story to be told. My guess is that Slimane will continue to use the monogram, which for me still signifies the decadence and glamour of a man who’s passions eventually consumed him.
Adieu, Yves. I shall still enjoy walking in your shoes.