The reformation of Yves Saint Laurent

09 January 2018

Ever since Hedi Slimane took the reins of Yves Saint Laurent in March 2012, there has been a lot of controversy around the Paris fashion house. Many critics were quick to mention that he injected an aesthetic, influenced by youth subcultures, into Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy. This is rather weird, because youth and freedom were essential elements in Yves’ own work in the 60s. But the irrational reactions were the unexpected needed publicity that made the reformation a success. Slimane even caused for major skyrocketing growth by bringing back a revitalized allure. There are many more reasons as to why Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé had absolute faith in Hedi Slimane. Part of Slimane’s ‘reform project’ was the rebranding of Saint Laurent. Many people still don’t get why the reformation of YSL was necessary, and especially why the rebranding happened. So we want to explain the whole situation around these three extraordinary men!

Hedi Slimane wanted to reintroduce couture to the house. Back in the days, Yves Saint Laurent stopped producing Couture because, according to Pierre Bergé, true haute couture no longer existed because of grand social occasions. This was true at that particular moment, but not anymore. Hedi had many conversations about this with Pierre. Eventually, Hedi came to the conclusion that there are different ways in which you can approach Couture. For Yves Saint Laurent, it’s the sense of privacy that prevails. This, because privacy seems to be the only true luxury left today.


In Hedi his opinion, building new couture salons was the most significant and first symbol that had to be completed. After the opening of the new couture house, everything else in his project could fall holistically into place. Hedi finds it extremely important to preserve the tradition whilst addressing the time we are living in. This is something that was done by Yves and Pierre as well. Even though many people think that ‘dropping’ Yves out of the brand’s name is getting rid of the tradition, the contrary is true. Many do not know that Yves Saint Laurent had the idea to name the Ready-To-Wear collection ‘Saint Laurent Rive Gauche’. He wanted a clear distinction between couture and RTW. Hedi just simply executed this idea, and made the RTW collection into Saint Laurent. YSL now focuses on Couture and the RTW collection is referred to as Saint Laurent. Both lines still feature the monogram logo, designed by the artist Cassandre.

Yves and Pierre were both true examples to Slimane as they closely worked together for years. He feels a sense of responsibility and loyalty to Yves and Pierre due to a personal history. This is the main reason as to why he went back to YSL, for Pierre and Yves. The last couple of years he is protecting the foundation of their house. For him, it’s a question of honor, duty and love. Because of this love for one another, he constantly refers to Yves in different ways in his latest collections, direct or indirect. From the tailoring, the silhouettes and the details, Yves is a constant point of reference.


So we now know, for once and for all, that the brand’s name is still Yves Saint Laurent in general. The Couture is named Yves Saint Laurent and YSL will be about the ateliers, the tradition and complete luxury. The RTW line is called Saint Laurent Paris. Hedi Slimane executed the reformation because he was sure this is what Yves and Pierre would’ve wanted for the house nowadays.