Hedi Slimane renames — and remakes — YSL into SLP

To say that Hedi Slimane has been in love with Paris—rather, his idea of Paris and all it represents—is somewhat elementary. Some of us remember Visionaire 34. To say that Hedi is a control freak is… rhetorical. So when word got around that the new creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, which turned 50 this year, would officially change the name of the famed house to SLP, or Saint Laurent Paris, gossip and controversy ensued. For Slimane, this too is nothing new.

For more than a decade now he has been fashion’s rogue waif, championing androgyny, tobacco and a black-and-white palette to the applause and adoration of editors and the international set. He has a specific idea of how he would like to see Saint Laurent Paris shaped but has so far not shared this with the public. The press is not invited to his debut resort or menswear collections. They’re to be shown to buyers only.

Some say the reasoning behind the change is consistent with Yves’ original logic from 1966, when he introduced the line as Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche to the market. And of course many brands have had posthumous success after the designer’s mortal form has moved on, finding life in a surname alone: Chanel, Prada, Pink, Balenciaga and Versace, for example. In fact naming a house by an eponymous surname is consistent with the tradition of designers throughout history. Their last names take on a tribal air, like a school or artisanal camp. The basis of an atelier. But the logo associated with the house of YSL, which was created by famed designer A.M. Cassandre and is so fundamental to the brand, is itself an icon. And suddenly seems incongruous, if not clearly out of step, with SLP.

Hedi seems to be playing the critical distance card at this time. A spokesperson for SLP has stated that the logo will continue to be used in some capacity. Furthermore, Monsieur Slimane has relocated the design team to his adopted city of Los Angeles, where he has been living for the past five years as a photographer and artist. Which leads many to conclude that critical distance is just as much a physical issue as it is metaphorical. How better to channel l’esprit de Paris than through the youthful energy of Southern California. The ateliers and fittings, however, will continue to take place in Paris, natch.

Like most visionaries, art stars and hip-hop giants, Hedi prefers to do things in a manner all his own. Pierre Bergé, cofounder of YSL — pardon, SLP — has given his blessing to the change. After all, Hedi was chosen by Yves himself to reshape YSL Homme in the mid ’90s. Those running in the rarefied circles Yves and Pierre did support the decision, and think Hedi is a strong choice to carry the brand into a new era. Of course Alber Elbaz is too, but he seems happy at Lanvin for the time being.

Suffice it to say, all eyes will be on Hedi and SLP during the Spring 2013 shows, when the new look of the house will premiere. One can hardly wait.