At Saint Laurent, he proved himself an independent thinker and a risk-taker with a visionary perspective on design and desire. He appointed Hedi Slimane as creative director, luring him back to fashion after a five-year hiatus as a photographer. He backed Slimane’s controversial decision to drop the “Yves” from Saint Laurent’s brand name, a move that was viewed as sacrilege in some fashion quarters. He also allowed the designer to base himself in Los Angeles not Paris, which ruffled a few French fashion feathers. His take on Saint Laurent’s legacy was equally radical.
Rather than kowtow to the formidable archive of the founder, his idea was to base the new Saint Laurent identity on “the spirit and the intentions that reigned over the creation of Saint Laurent Rive Gauche in 1966: principles of youth, freedom and modernity”, which effectively gave Slimane carte blanche to reinvent the brand for the 21st century without getting bogged down in the past. The result? Saint Laurent sales are significantly up.