Gasp. That was the sound heard throughout the offices of fashion editors today when news broke that Hedi Slimane, the creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, will rename the label Saint Laurent Paris.
"The change celebrates our legacy and heritage, while boldly marking our ambition for the future," Saint Laurent Paris CEO Paul Deneve said in a statement. "It will allow us to return to the fundamentals of YSL and revive the spirit and the intentions that reigned over the creation of 'Saint Laurent Rive Gauche' in 1966: principles of youth, freedom and modernity."
That's a lot of words to explain why the iconic brand is dismantling three of the most famous letters in the fashion world. What will YSL be without the Y? SL sounds short. And SLP, well, kind of sounds all wrong.
Ten and a half years ago Yves Saint Laurent, then 65, closed the haute couture house he started 40 years before. At the time, Saint Laurent said his goal was "not just to make women more beautiful, but to reassure them and give them confidence." He died six and a half years later, on June 1, 2008 at the age of 71.
The Gucci Group has owned the brand since 1999. During that time, there's been a revolving door of designers and executives, including Tom Ford, Stefano Pilati and Hedi Slimane.
Pilati was dethroned as head designer in February, and since then the fashion world has been waiting with bated breath for news of change from Slimane. Pilati's collections were not always well-received. So the Slimane appointment has been viewed as a fresh start.
Interviewed in March by Pamela Golbin at the French Institute Alliance Française, Pilati said the YSL post was always stressful. "Challenging is not the right word," he said. "It was dramatic. It was tragical."
Drama will continue to surround the iconic brand as Slimane works to reposition the label following a rocky recession. Slimane's first women's collection will be presented on the Paris runways in September.
Pierre Berge, Yves Saint Laurent's former partner, recently talked to T magazine about the difficulties associated with following a legend like Yves Saint Laurent. "It's a great problem, very complicated, to recreate the work of a genius. Like trying to rewrite Faulkner," he said. "To put your stamp on the name of Yves Saint Laurent requires someone who has talent, conviction, rigor, a demanding nature and a great sense of color."
Many insiders believe Slimane, who was previously ready-to-wear director of mens' collections at Yves Saint Laurent, has those qualities. But it remains to be seen how the public will receive a new name with different initials.
We plan to spend the next few months practicing saying SLP. It doesn't exactly trip off the tongue.