PARIS, France — We usually leave 'breaking news' stories to the wire services and Twitter, and don't like to propagate unsubstantiated rumours, but sometimes the news is so big, and the source of the rumour is so credible, that it warrants immediate comment and analysis from BoF.
In her rapturous review of Raf Simons' Spring/Summer 2012 collection for Jil Sander, the highly-respected fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune, Suzy Menkes, dropped the bombshell news that unnamed sources in Paris say that Raf Simons will replace Stefano Pilati as Creative Director of storied couture house, Yves Saint Laurent. When Menkes' IHT colleague Jessica Michault announced the news on Twitter, the fashion Twittersphere was sent into overdrive.
Menkes seems supportive of the supposed move, saying that "if Raf Simons ultimately takes over the helm at Yves Saint Laurent — as those familiar with the situation in Paris suggest — the designer will have found a sweet spot for his meticulous modernism."
But there was no mention of the timing of the supposed transition, and while Ms. Menkes' sources are amongst the best in the industry and her reporting is of the highest integrity, the news is yet to be officially confirmed by any of the parties concerned, so this news must still be treated as conjecture.
That said, Mr. Pilati's future at YSL is said to have been rocky for several seasons now. He has been regularly dogged by rumours that other designers were set to replace him. Only last season, a casual tweet from Kenzo's Twitter account spawned rumours that Hedi Slimane would replace Pilati, rumours that were only snuffed out when YSL's official Twitter account wrote: "From YSL HQ in Paris… Pilati busy working on the next collection. All the rumors unfounded – he is here to stay."
There is more reason to believe the rumours are true this time around. Up until now, there has been no such Twitter rebuttal from YSL. And, Ms. Menkes' news was published in the International Herald Tribune and on The New York Times website, organisations which operate under strict journalistic codes. While still not a 100 percent guarantee, this holds much more weight in our books than a rogue tweet from a competing brand.
As for Mr. Simons, Ms. Menkes says he couldn't be reached for comment. But, speaking to Tim Blanks for his review on Style.com, Mr. Simons did say that his Spring/Summer 2012 collection "is the last in his couture trilogy" for Jil Sander, leaving Mr. Blanks to postulate about Mr. Simons' next chapter for the brand.
Will there really be another Raf Simons collection for Jil Sander? Or, could YSL Couture be next? Watch this space.
Imran Amed is founder and editor of The Business of Fashion
UPDATE: 26 September 2006 - Yves Saint Laurent issued a statement today denying the rumours about Mr. Pilati's departure (and Mr. Simons' arrival) at the house: ""Yves Saint Laurent disclaims and regards as unfounded the current rumours concerning the creative direction of the house. Stefano Pilati continues to dedicate his talent and energies to Yves Saint Laurent and the coming fashion show."