Ever since Hedi Slimane became creative (and now image) director of Saint Laurent the brand has been surrounded by controversy. Initially many fashion insiders – including myself – were confused at the direction he was taking, but it all seems to be coming together over a year later.
One of Slimane’s pet projects has been to reform the brand and bring it back to its fundamentals. Yves Saint Laurent was one of the first couturier’s to launch ready-to-wear in 1966 under the name Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Slimane’s mission has been to recapture this spirit through various initiatives including a rebranding (he famously dropped the “Yves”), the reorganisation of the collections, and of course the design of the stores.
Last week the brand opened its new flagship store in Hong Kong, following recent openings in Paris and New York. When I visited the boutique I could really see Slimane’s vision come together. The 3,500 square foot store is, naturally, very chic. Decked out in a stark, black and white design, there is marble juxtaposed with concrete panels, mirrored shelving, suspended hangers and quilted leather benches. There is also a large video wall – no doubt a nod to digital.
In addition to the ready-to-wear collections (including the notorious grunge autumn/winter 2013 collection), there are the Saint Laurent Essentials which are permanent products – many of them unisex – that will appear each season. Here you have the iconic styles and looks that have defined the brand from the Le Smoking and jeans to the motorcycle jacket and baby cat (which is a new animal print designed by Slimane). These are the styles that men and women including myself will keep coming back for.
My favourite part of the store is of course the accessories. Highlights include the Lulu bag with its vintage gold clasp and boxy shape, and Vermeil couture jewellery collection. To commemorate the store opening the brand has released a mini version of its iconic Sac du Jour style in luxe crocodile. Only two colours are available in red and earth.
The limited edition Sac Du Jours for Hong Kong
Here’s to a new era of Saint Laurent…
Saint Laurent is at Alexandra House, Central, Hong Kong, tel: +852 2868 0092. www.ysl.com