The exit of Hedi Slimane from Saint Laurent is uniquely respectful, a story played out to its natural end
The past few months leading up to Hedi’s exit from Saint Laurent have been fascinating to watch.
Since the story first broke at the beginning of the year, it’s as if the industry has been on tenterhooks of an imminent shock jolt.
And a juicy, bitchy news story.
It’s true: most fashion splits involve a sense of hurried announcement (Raf Simons leaving Christian Dior), or deeply revealed divisions (the removal of Alber Elbaz from Lanvin).
There’s something very different about Hedi’s exit from Saint Laurent. It has been choreographed with a rare sense of respect from both sides, from him as creative director, and Kering group as conglomerate owner.
It became apparent at the Palladium show in Los Angeles, which I attended in February.
I was there to write a story for the Financial Times.
For me, it was high pressure.
The show was on a Wednesday night in LA, the deadline Thursday morning in the UK.
My nightmare was that right after we’d gone to print, the story would break that Hedi had quit, rendering my story redundant.
But it became clear that this was not going to happen.
The people around Hedi all seemed calm.
There was to be no drama.
This was not a creative director working at the end of his tether.
It was the work of someone still deeply committed to the brand (you can watch the show here).
The same story happened at the womenswear shows: that tension of a news story about to break, and then the reality of a show of unusual designer commitment.
A show titled La Collection de Paris, held in silence at the new YSL couture salon.
I wasn’t at the women’s show, so can’t comment on it, but you can watch it here.
The show was of such force, many wrote as if it were a new beginning for Hedi at Saint Laurent, rather than his farewell.
The show was on March 7th. Hedi’s contract expired 31st March.
Between the two dates, what followed was a graceful tying up of loose ends.
The advertising image he chose for the April issue of Frieze made it clear this was a goodbye.
And then there has been the advertising campaigns for the fall/winter collections, released already even though it’s two or three months until the clothes reach stores.
First the advertising for the Palladium collection.
Then the campaign for La Collection de Paris, featuring Cara Delevingne.
You’ve seen them all already, I don’t need to repeat them again here – if you’ve not seen them, head to their Twitter @YSL.
By working fully till the end, Hedi ensured that he controlled the imagery of his work.
And rather than pushing him out in a bitter pique, Kering have realised its in their best interest to let Hedi tell his story at the brand right to the final sentence.
Everything is tidied up, all is finished.
Showing the respect that Hedi has for the house, and the legacy of Saint Laurent himself.
And now it’s done.
Onto the next.