A young and contemporary look, revolutionary silhouettes – Yves Saint Laurent and his designs were inspired by the zeitgeist. Hedi Slimane, the current genius at the Paris fashion house’s helm, has been described in similar terms.
The history of SAINT LAURENT PARIS is inevitably linked to DIOR. In 1957 Yves Saint Laurent commenced his career as the artistic director of the House of DIOR. With his creation of the trapeze line, he freed women from their cinched waists and accompanying girdles. After Laurent launched his controversial and revolutionary Beat Look, Dior fired the designer. In cooperation with his romantic and business partner Pierre Bergé, Saint Laurent founded his own fashion house. As the first haute couture designer, he attracted new customers when he launched his ready-to-wear line Yves Saint Laurent - Rive Gauche - in 1966.
In 1996 Catherine Deneuve made his 'Le Smoking' popular as evening wear and Saint Laurent revolutionized women's fashion by adding trouser suits, trench coats and pea coats to modern women's wardrobes. Saint Laurent created a new androgynous type during the 1980s, making women look powerful and strong with his suits. As with previous collections, Saint Laurent interpreted typically male garments for the female body. The Safari Look in 1968, the Gypsy Collection inspired by folklore in 1977, colourful evening gowns as a tribute to Matisse in 1980, Saint Laurent refused to be pigeonholed.
In 1996 Hedi Slimane encountered YVES SAINT LAURENT in a working environment for the first time. Pierre Bergé appointed him the director of men's clothing. In 1999 the GUCCI Group bought the brand and appointed Tom Ford as creative director. Ford ensured that the collections appeal to a wider audience and was - similar to his designs for GUCCI - mainly inspired by the style of the 1970s.
Shortly after, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent publicly criticized Ford. In 2002, Saint Laurent and Bergé completely withdrew from their fashion house with one last brilliant couture collection. Meanwhile Slimane left YVES SAINT LAURENT in 2001 in order to work as the creative director of DIOR HOMME. In 2004 Milan-born designer Stefano Pilati became Tom Ford's successor at YVES SAINT LAURENT, but he couldn’t lead the house to success for long.
In spring of 2012 Hedi Slimane returned to YVES SAINT LAURENT as creative director, starting to focus on his own radical ideas – with overwhelming success. He changed the brand’s name to SAINT LAURENT PARIS, the collection’s name to SAINT LAURENT, focusing the colour scheme on black and white.
Although often being the subject of criticism, his collections sell extremely well. In the past three years, the turnovers of SAINT LAURENT have been more than doubled thanks to the designer. Not only the ready-to-wear collections, but also the footwear and leather goods collections, benefit from Slimane's design. Experts believe the main factor behind this success is the fact that Slimane addresses a broad, young audience - basically imitating what Yves Saint Laurent did when he established his ready-to-wear line in 1966.
With a clear eye for the zeitgeist, he creates new classics that combine luxury quality with casualwear. Slimane rejuvenated SAINT LAURENT and lead the brand to unimagined success.
Since the beginning of April 2016, the Belgian designer Anthony Vaccarello has taken over the house of SAINT LAURENT PARIS as the creative leader, who has been working as a guest designer for VERSUS VERSACE in 2013.