August 17, 2015  —  by

Fashion Analysis: The Slimane Effect


On the left, Dior Homme by Hedi Slimane advertising, 2006.

On the right, Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane advertising, 2015.

What’s in a name? These days it seems the answer is “increasingly little,” depending on how you look at it. When it comes to fashion’s most coveted brands, old-world ideas of heritage and continuity are giving way to the whimsy of the industry’s revolving door. But is a sense of tradition (one that has been cultivated over many years and has lent a great deal of allure to these brands) something that remains important? Have Creative Directors Become Bigger Than the Brands They Work For?

Hedi Slimane is representative of this new mode of designer – one who brings with them a host of devout fans, but also manages to inspire the fiercest of criticism from those who believe they are dismantling the legacy of their house’s founder under the guise of modernization.

Slimane’s modernization carries with it undeniable elements of self-indulgence and an aesthetic that does indeed jar with that of his brand’s founder, but the decision by Kering group to appoint the 47-year-old creative polymath has proved successful – financially at least. Since taking the reins, Slimane has more than doubled the house’s profits. Arguably, a portion of this upturn in fortune is down to the legions of adoring acolytes Slimane commands, following him from Dior, where he had served as Creative Director for Menswear.

Similar phenomena can be found in Riccardo Tisci‘s Givenchy. Today, both are inseparable: Tisci is Givenchy and Givenchy is Tisci. And, when he leaves the Parisian fashion house (as he no doubt will at some point) they will be left with some serious trouble. A problem that Balenciaga is just going through again as Alexander Wang, the failed successor of Nicolas Ghesquiere, quitted the job. Ghesquiere’s vision is still embedded to the brand’s DNA to such extend that it seems almost impossible for anybody else to be comfortable in the position. Lastly, John Galliano‘s new project at Maison Martin Margiela seems to follow a similar logic.