Finally, the fashion industry’s worst-kept secret was confirmed. Designer Hedi Slimane is definitely leaving Saint Laurent after spending the last four years injecting new life into the brand’s creative direction and revenue. But a quick scan of the headlines this week would lead one to believe that he didn’t just step down from his position. It almost seems like he died.
Most of the headlines take on a similar, nostalgic tone:
“Hedi Slimane’s Legacy At Saint Laurent”
“A Look Back At Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent Model Muses”
“Hedi Slimane’s Dangerous Legacy”
“Hedi Slimane: The Steve Jobs Of Fashion”
The 47-year-old wunderkind is still living and breathing. But the industry trade papers and articles read like insta-eulogies. What gives?
Perhaps all the fashion writers are in mourning. In the last four years, what other designer has captivated audiences and dominated the conversation the way Slimane has? From his refusal to move his operations to YSL’s Paris headquarters to his recent decision for an off-cycle runway show in LA, he has constantly defied convention. And because of this, he’s reinvigorated Saint Laurent’s value in the Kering portfolio. Now, with Slimane temporarily acting as a free agent, there’s hardly anything exciting to write about. Yes, there’s this whole craze over Vetements and Demna Gvasalia, but his long-sleeve DHL logo tops pale in comparison to anything Slimane has created.
"In the last four years, what other designer has captivated audiences and dominated the conversation the way Slimane has?"
Maybe people are worried for Saint Laurent. Can the next designer have anywhere near as much impact as Slimane? Probably not. Slimane is a one of a kind visionary that has dared to challenge the industry in ways other designers can only dream of. Rumored replacement Anthoy Vaccarello has some big shoes to fill. And undoubtedly, he will face pressure to stick to Slimane’s blueprint since it has generated over a billion dollars in annual sales. Perhaps what remains to be seen is how Slimane’s direction will influence the iconic fashion house for years to come.
As a fashion fan, what I’m most interested in is Slimane’s next step. Speculation has been rampant about his successor. And rumors of his exit began as early as mid-2015. But details are scant when it comes to his post-Saint Laurent move. Will he pull a Tom Ford and build his own in-demand fashion house? Will he focus on photography full-time? Everyone seems so focused on his past that they can’t dedicate a few words to honing in on his future.
I’m in absolute agreement that his achievements should be celebrated. But the media coverage reads like the history books. Like we’re all so anxious to close the chapter and end the story. Less than a week has passed since the official announcement. Though his tenure at Saint Laurent has come to a close, his past career choices lead me to believe something great is in store. There’s still much of this story to be written. So everyone can hold off with the eulogies. This guy’s still got plenty of creative life to live.