It was confirmed today that Creative Director at Yves Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane, who returned to the brand few months ago, following a period of chair shuffle in the fashion industry akin to a baby’s diaper change, has decided to change the name of the iconic brand from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris.
Naturally, this was met with shock and gasps across the various social mediums. The general consent was WTF?! Like SERIOUSLY, WTF?!! That age old saying, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” comes to play here. But for the sake of fairness, let’s see the reasons why Mr Slimane thinks its necessary for what has been, and will always be, an iconic brand to step into “modern” times. Apparently dropping the Yves from the founder’s name and tacking Paris to the end, is a move necessary push the brand into a more modern era, as reported by WWD… Who knew YSL was stuck in a time warp? The powers that come with his role as Creative Director for the brand, gives Slimane the latitude to do just this considering he is responsible for the brand’s image and reportedly, as reported on Stylecaster, he wants to “recapture the impulses that inspired the founder to launch the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche RTW in 1966, among the reason- youth, freedom and modernity”
To that I say; a diffusion line might have been a more sane route than a whole overhaul of a name change…maybe that’s just me. And if we’re being politically correct here, YSL was born in Oran, French Algeria and died in Paris…just how does this fit in? His atelier might have been in Paris and if so, the case of connection if there is any to be made, is, at best, weak. Even when he retired in 2002 he spent more time in his homes in Normandy and Morocco. Those in favour may argue that “Saint Laurent” was the name of the designer’s premier boutique; Saint-Laurent Rive Gauche, which housed his RTW collection whilst “Yves” was used as a demarcation for the couture, still, there is a reason why the name didn’t stick… To confuse us even further, the iconic YSL logo will remain despite the name change. If this move was at Dior, one would understand the reasoning behind it somewhat, but this is not a house that was riddled with scandal of Galliano proportions, nor is it a brand that went into liquidation and has to re-establish itself in the industry…No, this is Yves Saint Laurent. Bloody hell what would the Knightsbridge Wife have to say to this?
The fashion industry is not defined only by what a brand or the editors see, but also, and mostly, by what the consumer sees and perceives. YSL is not a dime a dozen brand that litters that fashion industry today, no, YSL is an iconic namesake brand of Yves Henri Donat Mathieu- Saint-Laurent, the same designer who saved the house of Christian Dior in 1958 with his first collection after he succedded the designer at the young age of 21, the same designer who made the Trapeze dress an icon in its own right, the same designer who designed the tuxedo for the woman; Le Smoking. Caroline Rennolds Milbank described YSL as ‘the most consistently celebrated and influential designer of the past 25 years…finally rendering RTW reputable” yes that YSL. And the name is the man, is the brand.
We shop YSL because of its iconism as a brand and its connection, personal connection, to YSL the man. We shop his vision, his ideal, the brand and the Lifestyle not just the name. But that name, which also remains the logo of the brand, signifies that brand which we have become so well associated with. That is what brings customer loyalty. The cash money if you will. Whilst it is necessary to move ahead with the times and I’m a big advocator of progression and change, there is that intrinsic need to maintain a part of what makes a brand an establishment. YSL is an establishment within and without the fashion industry; YSL, the man, was awarded rank of Commander of the Légion d’Honneur by former French President Jacques Chirac, a definition of what it means to be a couturier, a reputable brand and such reputation is inherent in its DNA part of which forms the identity of the brand, the logo, the culture, the NAME…what’s in the name? The name is everything.
It may be that Slimane has a crystal ball to see into the future, which will prove us all to be idiots and him a genius, it may be that this is exactly what is needed in the house, for all we know we are still only looking from the outside in…it maybe, and if it is so, I will eat my words and possibly buy a Saint Laurent Paris handbag to boot.
But for now we are still thinking SERIOUSLY WTF?!!