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Francois-Henri Pinault Backs Hedi Slimane

The chairman and chief executive officer of PPR has added his voice to the choir of retailers who praised the designer's debut at Saint Laurent.

ALL ABOUT YVES: François-Henri Pinault, chairman and chief executive officer of PPR, parent of Yves Saint Laurent, has added his voice to the choir of retailers who — in contrast to tepid reviews from many critics — praised Hedi Slimane’s runway debut for the storied house during Paris Fashion Week.

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“Hedi Slimane did a remarkable job. I liked last Monday’s fashion show very much: the Saint Laurent collection exceeded my expectations. The house needed both a renovation and a return to its roots and, with Hedi, we have started down that road,” Pinault told WWD. “I totally stand by the house of Yves Saint Laurent and the decisions made by its teams or its artistic director, and I didn’t appreciate that some people tried to use me by linking my name to chatter about invitations or the seating of this or that person,” Pinault said, alluding to an online quarrel that erupted between Slimane and New York Times critic Cathy Horyn, who was barred from the show, but reviewed it based on digital images.

Pinault also noted that retailers seem to be putting their money where their mouths are. “The initial sales trend we’re seeing at the showroom since the fashion show is very encouraging,” he said.

Meanwhile, PPR declined to comment Sunday on mounting speculation it could soon announce the disposals of parts of its remaining retail operations — the mail-order division Redcats, and books, music and electronics chain Fnac. TPG Capital has been cited among contenders for Redcats U.S.A., while French children’s wear firm Zannier is said to be interested in some European catalogue operations.

PPR has long stated plans to shed its retail business to focus on its core luxury and sports and lifestyle divisions, whose brands include Gucci, Puma and Volcom.

The prospect of Fnac possibly launching an IPO sent shares in PPR up more than 1.6 percent in morning trades on the Paris bourse.