Hedi Slimane's legacy at Saint Laurent

In April of 2016, Hedi Slimane, former Creative Director of Yves Saint Laurent, announced that he was leaving the brand. Considering his productive four year tenure as Creative Director, Slimane’s departure was surprising to all.

Slimane proved himself to be a strong creative director and brought the brand out of monotony and revamping the image. His major rebranding effort saved Saint Laurent from slipping into irrelevance.

Slimane’s transformation of the brand was sudden and substantial. He helped to raise Saint Laurent’s financial status as well, causing the brand’s revenue to grow by 38% from 2014 to 2015. Slimane was solely responsible for bringing Saint Laurent out of a slump and back onto the runway as a highly coveted brand.

In the wake of Slimane’s exit, many are left wondering how Saint Laurent will persevere without him. Slimane not only left Saint Laurent on a pedestal; he left the brand with a long way to fall. Many feel that Slimane’s departure from Saint Laurent after only four years may be premature. Slimane has followed in the footsteps of his peers; Alexander Wang recently left Balenciaga, Stefano Pilati left Zegna, and Raf Simons left Dior, all shortly following three year tenures. 

This pattern has many concerned that designers will stay with a brand for shorter and shorter terms, perhaps not long enough to make their mark. However, Slimane accomplished a lot for the French house brand during his short time. Dropping the ‘Yves’ from the name in the ready-to-wear line caused surprise amongst patrons, but Slimane stuck to the rebranding and made it work. 

Slimane will leave quite a legacy at Saint Laurent, leaving his shoes difficult to fill. Whether or not the next creative director will remain longer than a half decade is unknown; but it will be difficult for the successor to have quite the impact on the brand that Slimane did.