Pierre Bergé is not involved with the corporate side of Yves Saint Laurent officially, but that doesn’t mean the opinions of Yves’s former business and romantic partner don’t carry any weight.
Bergé was famously critical of YSL’s two prior creative directors, but has been outspoken in support of Hedi Slimane–who used to design YSL menswear while Saint Laurent himself was still at the helm–through the name change and all. Mr. Bergé “was the first to say [Mr. Slimane] was an excellent choice,” PPR CEO François-Henri Pinault told the Wall Street Journal recently. “Pierre knew him very well.” It remained to be seen, however, whether that support would continue after Slimane presented actual clothing, most of which has not been very well-received by critics or fashion fans.
But Bergé’s support has remained unwavering. He told the Wall Street Journal of Slimane’s latest collection (which has garnered comparisons to thrift stores and cheap high street shops), “I adored it; it’s exactly what needed to be done.” Bergé said of Slimane’s debut collection, “It’s very moving for me, because it’s the spirit of Saint Laurent, but revisited with Hedi’s enormous talent. It’s terrific…I was the one who hired him, after all, so I have always had tremendous confidence in Hedi, and I’m thrilled.”
This is coming from someone who has practically dedicated his life to keeping Saint Laurent’s memory and creative vision alive through the Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent, and who had nothing positive to say about the house’s creative direction for years before Slimane took the helm.
According to the WSJ article, which details the trouble that some founders can make for their labels once they’ve retired, Slimane frequently visits the YSL archives and that research could be seen in the designer’s spring 2013 collection, a direct homage to the house’s namesake designer. Slimane’s last collection was less obviously Saint Laurent-inspired (if at all).
You sort of get the impression that Bergé had been championing Slimane for a long time, and now that he’s finally gotten his way, Slimane can do no wrong in his eyes.