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COMPANY: Saint Laurent
NEWS THIS YEAR: His influence is everywhere. Hedi Slimane’s grunge-fueled sophomore collection for Saint Laurent ignited his brand rejuvenation effort and also made its mark on everything from high-street chains packed to the rafters with lumberjack plaids and skinny leathers this fall, to designer advertising, suddenly all moody and black-and-white.
Slimane also set a new template for the all-knowing, all-doing modern creative director by accruing wider powers following the exit over the summer of chief executive officer Paul Deneve, who joined Apple. While Francesca Bellettini, an executive director from sister brand Bottega Veneta, took over as ceo, Slimane was handed the responsibility to “supervise all strategic projects for the brand.”
The California-based Frenchman already boasted one of the most commanding controls of a major fashion label, from photographing ad campaigns and designing stores to vetting the press discount list. While his fashion shows have been somewhat divisive, Slimane’s rock ’n’ roll-fueled makeover of one of French fashion’s stalwart names is showing results. Saint Laurent logged a 7.2 percent increase in the third quarter, with the ready-to-wear category and Japan both vaulting 41 percent. Parent company Kering noted high volumes of editorial helped boost the brand’s momentum.
Also this year, Saint Laurent started rolling out a sleek marble-driven boutique design conceived floor to ceiling by Slimane in cities including Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Berlin. Already, it’s been mimicked by several fashion chains.
Arriving at the house in 2012, Slimane immediately set out to place his fashions in a broader cultural context, forging ties with rock stars like Courtney Love, Beck and Kim Gordon, whom he photographed for campaigns earlier this year. They and others feature under the “music project” section of YSL’s Web site.
Slimane also made headlines this year by cutting off business relations with Colette after the famous Paris retailer sold a parody T-shirt that winked to the designer’s streamlining of the brand name: “Ain’t Laurent Without Yves.” While it raised the designer’s ire, it also telegraphed that people are riveted by every move Slimane makes.
— MILES SOCHA
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