24.06.2015 - Katherine Koniecki


Saint Laurent


Hedi Slimane’s 2012 comeback as the brand’s Creative Director jolted the long-standing French legacy and the house’s headquarter relocation from Paris to L.A. has since become the catalyst to the brand’s perfectly crafted algorithm of glamour and grit. Parisian couture treads California’s sun-blazed concrete. It is a bold new code which has turned followers into believers. A Saint Laurent tribe has ensued. 

Renewing the Cardinal Codes

Inaugurated with impeccably crafted design detail and a seamless communication strategy, the brand’s success is credited to its luxury-casual constellation. Biker jackets, t-shirts, tailored cuts, skinny and suede make up Saint Laurent’s backbone. Each ready-to-wear Saint Laurent collection shares an unprecedented cohesion of couture construction and west coast ease. The permanent collection leverages Saint Laurent signature pieces ensuring that the brand’s trademark styles remain firmly grounded among each season’s it pieces. Take, for instance, the Saint Laurent Signature California Mid Top Sneaker in optic white embezzled with metallic leather stars, a reference to the brand’s consistent Americana inspired vein. Iconic styles like Le Smoking drape Kim Gordon in black and white campaign images, an ode to living music legends, and a branding move that strikes another strategic ace for Saint Laurent’s venerable vision.  

The Saint Laurent Anthology 

Saint Laurent is a multi-dimensional character. Each facet from the product driven collections to the brand’s campaign images solidly stands on its own, infused, the brand’s identity emulsifies. The Saint Laurent Music Project for one celebrates music’s forerunners like Curtis Harding, Joni Mitchell, Courtney Love, Daft Punk, Kim Gordon and Marilyn Manson. Rock royalty ties don’t deviate far from the house’s early days when Yves himself dressed Bianca Jagger in a white Le Smoking when she wed Rolling Stones frontman Mick back in 1971. 

In their physical form Saint Laurent flagships are coated in modern day Rive Gauche gloss. French infused Art Deco lavishly parlays white marble throughout the interior’s textural interplay of mirrors, brass, concrete and leather. Dropping the original master’s name from the brand’s long-established title shocked some critics, though Yves would have given his nod of approval as honour is due to his original 1966 boutique which held the name ‘Saint Laurent Rive Gauche’ at 21 Rue de Tournon on Paris’ Left Bank. True to the brand’s commercial allure, the flagships manifest an environment in which homage to the house’s original codes seep through stone-cold decadence. 

Step one layer deeper into the brand’s architecture to uncover Slimane’s personal photo diary, the pulse upon which the Saint Laurent spirit is built. L.A. dive bars, west coast music festivals, living room jam sessions are captured on stark black and white film. It is this personal vantage point by which each element of the Saint Laurent brand carries an invigorating caliber of youth, freedom and fearlessness that drives the brand’s intoxicating desirability. 

Driving the Legacy

Saint Laurent’s defiant, easygoing cool has augmented the brand’s appeal to embody a soul which levitates the collections themselves. Throughout Saint Laurent’s constitution, a fearless spirit has become the greatest object of desire and harnessing it will lead you straight to the private backdoor jam session, places that simply can’t be found unless the instinct is sharply tuned. Clothing won’t find that impulse for you, but as Slimane has alluded to himself: they will certainly put you in the mode to take on that challenge. 

Short Facts


Saint Laurent Paris has a new mark: White Helvetica font against a black backdrop. The ‘Y’ on the original gold YSL monogram remains intact for the women’s leather goods collection. Hedi Slimane’s black and white photographs have become an iconic element of the brand’s imagery. Musicians like Curtis Harding, Joni Mitchell, Courtney Love, Kim Gordon and Marilyn Manson are immortalised as modern day music legends. 


The brand’s headquarter relocation to L.A. became a pivotal element  for the house’s communication strategy involving a heightened west coast edge and broadening up to a younger target customer. Slimane has been known for his off-shoot model castings as the fresh-off-the-street faces to leverage authenticity for the brand both on the catwalk and on camera. Instantly recognisable is the leather biker jacket, a Saint Laurent signature has become what Le Smoking was to the brand back in the day. 


A heightened fashion show phenomenon: People watching people, watching people...Saint Laurent’s front row packs in music’s finest. Among the maestros, front row mainstays are original YSL muse Betty Catroux and Yves’ founding partner of 1962, Pierre Bergé, who loyaly shows his salut at every Saint Laurent show. 

Who wears it?


2012 - Chapter One

Hedi Slimane returns as the Creative Director to house’s formerly named Yves Saint Laurent. A new chapter begins for the brand’s resurgence as Saint Laurent Paris. The debut collection for Saint Laurent Paris inaugurates the catwalk for Spring 2013. Daft Punk lays the soundtrack. It is the most anticipated show of the season and the fashion press meets the show’s debut with pre-emptive critique. 

2013 - Thee Oh Sees

Saint Laurent’ first flagship store opens up in Paris at 53 avenue Montaigne. Downstairs dedicates a VIP room hung with the newest photos of the Saint Laurent Music Project featuring Daft Punk. Slimane’s second collection for Saint Laurent celebrates the young bloods, inspiring a new wave of rockers fresh off Californian soil. True to the brand’s music ties, Slimane catapults a hazy pop-folk soundtrack by Thee Oh Sees and psychedelic waves ripple through Paris’ Grand Palais. 

2014 - Punk Forever

As Saint Laurent’s mood-board oscillates between the decades, a punk undercurrent prevails season after season. L.A. artist Jim Shaw etched his punk inspired artwork on the invitations of Saint Laurent’s Fall 2015 show. The 80’s reigned the catwalk and punk is here to stay. 

2015 - Style is Eternal

Joni Mitchell has become the newest face of the Saint Laurent Music Project for Saint Laurent’s Spring ’15 campaign. The 70’s icon was photographed by Slimane in her Bel Air home. A new YSL retrospective is set to debut at the Bowes Museum in London in July 2015. The exhibition will harrow back to Yves Saint Laurent’s takeoff as a trip through time reconnecting to the original legacy’s roots. 


© Imaxtree, GettyImages


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