Saint Laurent is creating a line even more exclusive than couture

Posted on August 05 2015

A campaign picture of the “Yves Saint Laurent” couture ivory silk label. Hedi Slimane via Yves Saint Laurent.

Text: The New York Times

First, Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy sneaked a few couture looks into his men’s wear show, and now, Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent is creating his own, even more exclusive, version of the club.

According to an executive at the house (no one but Mr. Slimane or Francesca Bellettini, the chief executive, is authorized to speak for the brand), Saint Laurent, which closed its couture atelier in 2002 when the designer Yves Saint Laurent retired, is officially debuting a new offering: the hand-sewn “Yves Saint Laurent” Couture ivory silk label. (Note the return of the “Yves,” which was dropped from the ready-to-wear line under Mr. Slimane’s direction in 2012.)

The line, which has been in nonofficial existence for a while, will not be shown on the couture schedule, but it is featured in a monochromatic ad campaign that will appear in magazines next month. Photographed by Mr. Slimane in the brand’s couture atelier, renovated by Mr. Slimane, in Paris on Rue de l’Université, it includes long, slinky, strapless black gowns with a fan of pleats at the throat and tuxedo suiting.

It will be “used only for ‘friends of the house,’ and can be both for men or women, daywear or evening wear,” the executive said. “Hedi Slimane decides these orders case by case. Unlike a couture collection, this is an even more exclusive definition.” Each order will be recorded in a “Monogram House Couture book held by the premier d’atelier flou,” the head of the workroom that specializes in drapery and bias cutting.

Not just any rich person can have a YSL Couture garment, in other words. Only people Mr. Slimane approves can have one. As to what the qualifications for that are — well, no one knows. Though examples may be “certain looks worn at the Oscars, Cannes or for the stage,” the executive said.

This puts a whole new twist on the form.

Indeed, when I asked Ralph Toledano, president of the Fédération Française de la Couture, if YSL had gotten in touch about returning to the official couture sector, he emailed back, “No!”




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