BRAND DNA: YVES SAINT LAURENT
by Jeremy Danté
brands are constantly reinventing themselves in our industry. the first of a new fashion history series i’m rolling out; the ‘brand DNA’ series will see me looking back at the code of each brand, respectively. as a part of this review process we will look at house origins, iconic moments and what lies ahead for the future. with the recent headlines circulating the house of saint laurent, there is no better label to start this series.
last week is was officially announced that hedi slimane was to exit the house; an installment that originally began in 2012. slimane’s history with the house began in 1996 within the menswear division of the label, where he is widely credited for skinny jeans and slim fitting male silhouettes (2000-01) among other style elements which have become staples in the modern male style movement. he parted ways with the brand in 2000, and drifted into the industry as a photographer, working on editorial projects and assorted campaign clients. for the most part he was said to be retired from high fashion design, but when stefano pilati was uninstalled as creative director in 2012, a position he held since 2004, following the departure of tom ford (1999-2004). respectively, each era cannot be discounted for the overall influence of the brand from origination to now.
along the way, each designer has left their own impression and interpretation of the iconic french fashion house. more of a new school forerunner, the house of yves saint laurent rose like a phoenix after yves himself was ousted from he house of christian dior, after he was appointed by dior himself at just 19 years old. his mentorship under dior created a very unique pathway of glamour, and when the house of yves saint laurent was founded, there was a mystique of sexual darkness embedded into the house code. tom ford, who’s legendary gucci era made the house what it is today is synonymous with sleek sex appeal and chic seduction. the relationship between ford and laurent went south when laurent disagreed with the direction ford was taking and spared no time in expressing such feelings. during stefano pilati’s time at the label his intention was to re-unify the house and it’s french heritage. yves saint laurent, who died in 2008 from brain cancer, started the house with his long time business and life partner, pierre bergé in 1961 after he left dior.
the original code of the house popularized the safari look, debuted by laurent between the 60’s and 70’s, he also created the classic tuxedo suit for women in ’66, affectionately known as le smoking suit. many of the laurent’s muses were iconic or diplomatic women in france, which further allowed for the brand’s name to become etched into french fashion history. the label, yves saint laurent, reflected many aspects of darkness aligned with the personal life of saint laurent the man. he battled addiction as well as depression, on the heels of the tumultuous 70’s glam era of studio 54. amidst the history of the brand, now exists questions of where the future will lead. anthony vaccarello was announced as the new creative director at yves saint laurent and will likely inject his flavoring for sexy lines and powerful presence. vaccarello has his own line, and has also worked with donatella versace, for the versus line; where his level of attention to feminine prowess has been at the forefront. i always like to see how new minds interpret the house code. with a roster of iconic styles and french flavor galore, vaccarello is an interesting choice. slimane and his emo-hipster rocker vibe escalated revenue to $1 billion during his 4-year stint; and rumors are swirling that he will land at dior next or even chanel. i would love to see vaccarello honor the diversity of the brand, especially in representing women of color, which slimane was largely criticized for overlooking. saint laurent is credited as affording naomi campbell the title of being the first black model on the cover of french vogue, after he historically threatened to pull all advertising and uses of the YSL brand if they did not cooperate with his choice to outfit her and feature her. in honor of this series, a campaign image of iman, shot by giampaolo barbieri (1980).
the brand DNA series will recount house heritage
style signatures and cultural influence of selected labels
campaign image colorized for reinterpretation