Hedi Slimane, a cult designer beloved of rockers and fashionistas alike, is returning to the industry after a five-year break to become creative director at Yves Saint Laurent, the French house said Wednesday.
YSL made the announcement, confirming what industry sources told AFP last month, on the final day of Paris Fashion Week where its current designer Stefano Pilati showed his swansong collection on Monday night.
Named “creative and image director”, Slimane “will take on artistic responsibility for the brand and all the collections,” said a joint statement from Saint Laurent and its parent company, the French luxury giant PPR.
The prospect of the 43-year-old Slimane returning to fashion, and what’s more taking over at the illustrious Yves Saint Laurent, set Twitter abuzz at the start of Paris Fashion Week.
“It’s going to be sharp, sexy, dry,” swooned one fan, dreaming of a woman’s tuxedo ─ a YSL classic ─ revisited with Slimane’s edgy, androgynous touch.
It will be Slimane’s second stint at the legendary house, having worked there in the late 1990s as head of menswear before moving to Dior Homme, part of the rival LVMH luxury galaxy, where he left an enduring mark.
Born to a Tunisian father and Italian mother, Slimane is seen as having revolutionized the way men dress during his stint at Christian Dior, from 2000 and 2007, making Dior Homme each season’s must-see show.
Seen by his peers as one of the most gifted designers of his generation, Slimane’s distinctive skinny suits and tight low trousers found imitators not just in fashion but in the rock sphere that so fascinates him.
Since leaving Dior he has been based in Los Angeles on a sabbatical from the fashion world, working mainly in photography, his mostly black and white work focusing largely on the rock milieu.
YSL’s statement said that “in parallel with his new job, he will continue his career as a photographer.”
Mega-stars from Mick Jagger to Pete Doherty have gone on stage in Dior Homme, while Jean Paul Gaultier once said after a Slimane show he could not have done better.
Even the legendary Karl Lagerfeld shed some 45 kilos (90 pounds) to be able to slide into a pencil-thin Slimane suit.
His look was much copied by mass-market designers across the world, also influencing the design of women’s clothes.
At the height of his fame, some young followers even adopted Slimane’s distinctive Tintin-like quiff.
With a gift for creating buzz around his collections, Slimane is seen as a master showman as well as a talented designer.
At his packed catwalk shows, the models would step out in groups instead of one by one, with rock groups were hired to provide the soundtrack for the carefully stage-managed events.
Slimane left Dior saying he wanted a chance to design for women.
Although he has never created a full-scale women’s collection, he produced a tiny number of super slim-shouldered men’s suits ─ for a select clientele of women to fight over.
With the move to YSL, Slimane is coming full circle. He first arrived there in 1997 as head of menswear, leaving in 2000 when it was acquired by the Italian house Gucci, which brought in its house stylist Tom Ford.
Slimane succeeds the Italian Pilati, who earned a standing ovation for a final YSL collection playing heavily on blacks with fine chain-mail dresses, sent out before a star-studded Paris Fashion Week gathering.
Pilati gave a brief bow at show’s end, raising one hand in a “V” for victory, signing off after an adventure with the house that began in 2004.