BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

What Will Hedi Slimane Do Next?

At the Paris men's and couture shows, the front rows were buzzing with speculation on Hedi Slimane's rumoured departure from Saint Laurent and what the designer might do next.
Hedi Slimane | Source: Courtesy
  • Imran Amed

LONDON, United Kingdom — In the crucible that is fashion week, with buyers, editors and other industry insiders pressed up against each other at show after show, it's not surprising that rumours can take hold and spread like wildfire. But the past week in Paris, during the men's and haute couture shows, was unlike anything I have seen before. New rumours seemed to pop up everyday, morphing and mutating as the week progressed. Perhaps it's just because the fashion flock is bored and turns to speculation to add a dash of excitement to the proceedings. Sometimes this kind of speculation has a way of becoming full-fledged "confirmation." But, of course, it's difficult to tease out the truth from a rumour mill in overdrive.

Last week, the most extreme and interesting rumours surrounded the mystery of what is going on with Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent. When it came to light, earlier this month, that Slimane might be exiting YSL, after the brand suddenly announced its menswear show would not take in place in Paris as planned, but instead in Los Angeles, where Slimane lives and works, the question on everyone's minds was: what might the designer do next?

Why, people wondered, would Slimane walk away from a brand he has so successfully — if controversially — turned into one of the biggest fashion business success stories of the last few years? Surely, it's because a better offer is now on the table, or so the rumours went. Rumours are rumours. But as they say, where there's smoke, there's fire and it seems there is something indeed going down at Saint Laurent.

According to the speculation circulating on the front rows in Paris, moving up from Saint Laurent means either becoming creative director at Dior — a position which was vacated late last year by Raf Simons — or Chanel, where Karl Lagerfeld has a life-long contract, but just might be starting to think about who might fill his enormous shoes.

The Dior theory is interesting because Slimane has a storied past at Dior Homme, a brand he singlehandedly created and built between 2000 and 2007, leaving, in part, because he wanted to start his own label, doing both men's and women's wear. What's more, before his tenure at Dior Homme, Slimane worked at Yves Saint Laurent, so it wouldn't be the first time he came back to a brand with which he has a history — albeit on the women's side. There were tensions between Slimane and LVMH at the time of his departure, so to believe this rumour, you'd also have to believe that Slimane has patched things up. (There was also another rumour circulating widely that Sarah Burton would take up the reins at Dior, but again, that was only speculation).

Following Karl Lagerfeld's triumph during the haute couture shows, it's hard to imagine anyone else taking the helm of Chanel. But one day, even King Karl will go and the naming of his successor will be the mother of all announcements in a fashion system where Mr. Lagerfeld has reigned as a kind of unimpeachable monarch for several decades now. Who better, some people said, than another of fashion's greatest masters of branding and communication: Hedi Slimane. Lagerfeld, who is widely expected to handpick the next creative director of Chanel, has long been a fan of Slimane and famously shed more than 90 pounds to squeeze into one of Slimane's skinny Dior Homme suits — so there is a mutual respect there.

Of course, none of the aforementioned brands would comment on these rumours, because, for the moment, that's all they are. But it is certainly going to make for an interesting fashion season when the women's shows begin in earnest in New York on February 10th, as some of the big announcements at Dior, Lanvin and perhaps even Saint Laurent are made.

To catch up on all of our fashion week coverage, led by BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks, visit The Business of Fashion Week.

Have a good weekend.

Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief

Enjoy our top stories for the week gone by:

The Rise, Stumble and Future of Lululemon
How will the activewear brand that helped create the market rise above a consumer backlash sparked by a defective product, an avalanche of new competitors and an estranged, yet influential founder? BoF speaks to chief executive Laurent Potdevin.

Resetting China's Luxury Compass
In spite of the country's slowing economy, stock market turmoil and a climate of uncertainty, China's luxury market still presents lucrative opportunities if you know which direction to look.

The Rich Don't Drive the Luxury Sector
Despite popular belief, demand for personal luxury goods is driven primarily by upwardly mobile 'new money' — not by the 'old money' rich, argues Luca Solca.

What Davos Means for Fashion
At the 2016 World Economic Forum, leaders discussed turmoil in global markets and the impact of 'The Fourth Industrial Revolution' on business sectors, including fashion.

Tim Walker's Fantasy World
Tim Walker tells BoF about working for Avedon, rejecting social media and why there is a "need for dreams and truth in fashion" like never before.

Couture's Melancholia
As ready-to-wear moves further upmarket, the culture of couture is fading away.

Narrative and Neorealism
In today's "société du spectacle," fashion shows increasingly resemble brutally concise theatre, sampling everything from war to the cult of the derelict.

How Couture Went International
This season, fewer than half the couturiers showing in Paris are French. BoF investigates how haute couture has gone global and the opportunities for fledgling brands.

© 2021 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
Inside the $7 Billion Dior Phenomenon
© 2022 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions and Privacy policy.
Inside the $7 Billion Dior Phenomenon