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The BoF Podcast: Francesca Bellettini: ‘It’s Better to Present Yourself the Way You Really Are’

The CEO of Saint Laurent sits down with Imran Amed to discuss the importance of authenticity, balancing legacy with growth — and taking 500 employees to Morocco.
Francesca Bellettini on stage at BoFs VOICES | Source: Getty Images for The Business of Fashion
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OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — Since joining Saint Laurent as president and chief executive in 2013, Francesca Bellettini has overseen strong growth of the luxury house, which crossed the $1 billion sales mark in 2017 and has consolidated its place as a star in Kering’s portfolio of luxury houses. So what lies ahead for the company as it navigates industry-wide challenges, namely staying relevant while remaining true to the brand’s heritage and its namesake designer’s legacy? Speaking at BoF Voices, Bellettini unpacks her vision for the company.

Any discussion of Saint Laurent's future will mean addressing the issue of Hedi Slimane. The former creative director of Saint Laurent has returned to fashion as creative director of LVMH-owned Celine, putting him — and his loyal band of "Slimaniacs" — in the camp of Kering's chief rival.

Bellettini, however, is unfazed — and her coolness is supported by the company's defiant post-Slimane success off the back of Anthony Vaccarello's appointment to creative director in April 2016.

Her priority is to build “a loyal and authentic relationship with clients,” which sits at the core of Saint Laurent’s expansion into markets such as China, as well as the company's structure itself (hundreds of employees were taken on an educational trip around the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech after a company retail conference in Paris). “Your people are your first asset and your first customer, says Bellettini. "Be authentic. If they choose you, they remain with you.”

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