YSL can only mean one thing: Yves Saint Laurent. The man, the brand, the French chicness of his clothes have been associated with the famous slanting logo that has represented the house since 1961. But in June 2012, when new creative director Hedi Slimane took over the helm of the luxury brand, he announced that Yves Saint Laurent was no more; from now on the house would be known as Saint Laurent Paris. It was a controversial move that received both praise and criticism, but now, Wallpaper* Magazine has deemed it the best rebranding in the past year.
Many saw the removal of ‘Yves’ from Yves Saint Laurent as a sign of disrespect towards the deceased designer, but others thought that renaming the house Saint Laurent Paris can be seen as a bow to him and the roots of his line. Saint Laurent, the designer, began as a haute couturier, but basically invented ready-to-wear with his revolutionary 1966 runway show in Paris under the name Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. The change in name refers to this time, as does the change of font to Helvetica, which harkens back to that formative era for the brand. Slimane told Wallpaper*:
It made sense today to transpose these principles and recover the original name and typeface. ‘The name Rive Gauche disappeared in the past then resurfaced several times. It seems intrinsic to the universe of Yves Saint Laurent, without it being useful to refer to it literally today. We thus went to the essential, a name that is written as it is spoken every day: Saint Laurent, unequivocally.
This form of retro-branding allowed Slimane to pay respect to the designer while also signalling his arrival and differentiating himself from his predecessors, Stefano Pilati and Tom Ford, the two other creative directors who have lead the house since Saint Laurent stepped down. While the famous monogram will remain in tact, if it in a slightly more modern form, it will have to coexist with the new Saint Laurent Paris packaging. This is Hedi Slimane’s YSL, and with generally negative reviews of his second collection, it remains to be seen if this rebranding will be entirely successful and whether it was necessary.
See the rebranded packaging, store concepts and old logo below: