Handbags at dawn, there’s a new fashion spat in town and it’s between Yves Saint Laurent’s new Creative Director (er, sorry, Saint Laurent?) Hedi Slimane and a handful of the fashion press. Here’s the 411.
So what’s the problem? Well artistic temperaments aside, fans and journos are a tad annoyed that Hedi has messed with the brand’s name and logo, they weren’t blown away by his first collection at PFW and to make matters worse, some journos have complained of being bossed around by PRs and marketing people.
So who said what? The Telegraph’s fashion journo, Lisa Armstrong, expressed her frustration, writing: “For starters, there was the seating. Or the standing, with some journalists admitted only right at the back…Then there were the instructions about the change of name. Sorry, names…” You HAVE to read the full version!
Next up to take a pop, was Imran Amed, who is the influential editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion. He wrote a pretty damning article about YSL’s PR team. OUCH! It talks about the way PRs have managed the re-branding, allegedly meddling with journalists’ pieces and even asking for tweets to be edited. He goes on to say that the publication was banned from the fashion show because of its ‘tone of voice’ but luckily Imran managed to sneak in somehow!
He writes: “This kind of behaviour is not only arrogant, it also reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of how winning brands are built in today’s brand. Successful brands aren’t conceived in the control tower of a company’s headquarters…[but] are ideas that live in conversation with the world…They must be nurtured.”
The Times’ Laura Craik has also now entered the fray in a witty article, that none-the-less has teeth! As well as commenting on the cool kids in skinny trous on the front row (so journos could only see the top half of models – handy!) she goes on to say: “Those emails. I received one about how I should refer to the house of Yves Saint Laurent…[but] collection credits should read Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane, and Saint Laurent Paris si used in the logo but not when spoken about, or written about the collection.”
Are you confused? We are! “Despite these stipulations, though, and despite having sat through your show, I still don’t feel clear about your intentions for the brand,” she adds.
Is all publicity good publicity?
WWD even commented on Hedi’s super controlling ways- pointing out that they eclipse those of perfectionist Karl Lagerfeld. It says, commenting on Lagerfled: “He’s got some pretty old-school ideas about the workplace. When it comes to his collections, thematic secrecy? No. Preview? No problem. Sound bite? He’ll give you 30. Banishing longtime front-row types to the second row, or disinviting those who have written ill of him? Nope.”
Cathy Horyn of the New York Times reportedly wrote a corker of a piece slagging off the designer’s SS13 collection, saying: “in many ways it’s the same old French label” despite the rebrand etc etc.
There is history here. Cathy was not terribly complimentary about one of Hedi’s 2004 shows (in fact she said that Hedi’s success was partly down to Raf Simons’ tailoring, but there wouldn’t have been a Raf without Helmut Lang…you get the idea). To cut a long story short, Hedi was not impressed and reportedly claimed to be the first to show a skinny suit and then went on to say that Cathy favoured Raf. In fact, she says she hasn’t spoken to Hedi in 5 years. But let’s focus on now.
Cathy said of the FROW: “There was a smattering of star photographers, editors and models, like Kate Moss. But many front-row editors, to their disgruntlement, were given second- and third-row seats, and some, including an editor from Le Monde, had to stand. While a lot of journalists don’t really care where they sit, the lack of professional courtesy smacked of ignorance or arrogance.”
She wasn’t invited to the show but that didn’t stop her from commenting on the collection from photos. “The collection was a nice but frozen vision of a bohemian chick at the Chateau Marmont. Or in St. Tropez. Mr. Slimane’s clothes lacked a new fashion spirit,” she writes.
You’ll have to read the whole article for context, but Cathy also says:“Considering that Mr. Slimane was an avatar of youthful style, I expected more from this debut,” and “there wasn’t something new to learn here.”
The piece riled Hedi up enough to write back via Twitter @hedislimanetwit…
According to Vogue, Cathy laughed off the criticism when she talked to WWD, saying: “It’s just silly nonsense to me.”
But that wasn’t enough for Hedi, who tweeted: “What is a ‘silly nonsense’ to me is Catty Horyn still singing her tired bias tune for the NYT. This is an embarrassment for the newspaper,” closely followed by: “The perfect integrity of the New York Times, and its writers, is not precisely ‘just silly nonsense’.”
We have no intention of giving our 5 cents, but it would appear that the newly rebranded label has aggravated journalists by trying to control coverage so meticulously and according to Vogue, has even stipulated that only black and white images of the designer can accompany certain news about the label. The magazine’s editor, Alexandra Shulman succinctly said in a tweet: “@YSL fallout an example of what happens when you try to overly control the media. Generally everyone is more generous to first collections.”
Phew! We think we get it now. If there’s any more exciting snippets we’ll keep you posted.