My very first fashion job was as an intern at YSL five years ago. I was doing visual merchandising in the creative services department, and I became enamored by the brand and its history. I loved the big flagship on 57th Street, but knew the Madison Avenue boutique — the first YSL outpost in the States — was truly special. I thought Stefano Pilati did Saint Laurent’s aesthetic justice. I dreamed of dressing in YSL, and I left the city with a coveted pair of Vichy print flats, with the iconic Cassandre logo inside, that summer.
The next year I was thrilled to be given an offer to return to the company. This was the summer Yves Saint Laurent died. Though he had not been associated with the house for several years at that point, everyone was devastated. My department was responsible for windows, and we took out all the mannequins so that only a photo of Saint Laurent against a black background remained.
Since my time at YSL, a lot has changed. In addition to Slimane replacing Pilati as creative director, there has been a ton of corporate turnover over the last few years. The Madison Avenue boutique has shuttered. Things are different there, but it is still the venerable house of Yves Saint Laurent — though that appears to be changing in a big way.
As per a YSL spokeswoman, Slimane is changing the name of the label from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris, a nod to the fact that the ready-to-wear line was called Saint Laurent Rive Gauche when it debuted in 1966. (Saint Laurent was the first French couturier to design a complete ready-to-wear line.) The brand will “use the same fonts, and similar nomenclature, from that era”, though the Yves Saint Laurent name will be used for “institutional purposes”. The elegant Cassandre logo will continue to appear on apparel, accessories, and cosmetics.
I would like to think that Slimane, who designed for YSL Homme in the late ’90s, knows what he’s doing. But I cannot be the only one who feels an emotional attachment to the house in this way. There is some comfort in knowing that the name change — and all of the other inevitable changes — are rooted in the company’s history, but it still feels wrong. And sad.