Stefano Pilati bids farewell to YSL

By Susannah Frankel

Yves Saint Laurent's head designer has departed the famous label, leaving behind a mixed legacy.

Earlier this week, in Paris, designer Stefano Pilati showed his swan-song collection for Yves Saint Laurent. Pilati has been at the helm of this, one of France's most famous labels, since 2002. Though rumours of his departure have been rife for the past two years, emerging unhelpfully, not to mention inevitably, in the run-up to his shows, he should be applauded for the work he has done there.

Critical opinion has often been divided concerning his output. From his very first season - a polka-dotted procession of frilled froth worthy, to my eyes, of any Rive Gauche mademoiselle worth her fashion credentials - Pilati has had his detractors. I am not one of them. I love his aesthetic.

His greatest hits have included: cocktail dresses covered entirely with pretty pink rosebuds; over-sized tailored coats and jackets as luxe as they were understated, even positively ascetic, by nature; a revival of the YSL high-waisted banana trouser that, for several seasons, was the shape to see and be seen wearing; and costume jewellery, as imaginative and empowering as a modern fashion follower could wish for. Then, of course, we have Pilati to thank for the "muse" and "downtown" bags, the "tribute" sandal ... just the type of money-spinning accessories for which the luxury-goods industry strives. Reporting financial results for 2011 this month, Henri-Francois Pinault, chairman of PPR, the parent company of YSL, cited a "giant step" forward in profitability.

He later thanked Pilati "for his dedication and contribution to the story of Yves Saint Laurent".

For his part, Pilati told Women's Wear Daily that he was "incredibly proud of what I have accomplished with my teams over the past decade at Saint Laurent. I exit the house with fierce conviction in all that we have achieved and deep gratitude to those who have supported me along the way".

So what next for the designer? Given the pressure that creative directors are under, a break is deserved. Then, who knows where he might emerge? It seems, at this point, nothing short of uncouth to speculate but it would be good to think that a designer of Pilati's stature will be safely installed elsewhere before too long.

The head of YSL has confirmed to employees that Hedi Slimane will become the new creative director of the prestigious fashion house.

A person attending the meeting said that YSL chief Paul Deneve made the announcement to personnel. The YSL employee says that Deneve didn't say when Slimane would start his new job. Slimane is a former Dior Homme designer.

The employee was not authorised to speak publicly about the appointment and spoke on condition of anonymity. Phone calls to YSL went unanswered.

The employee says personnel were told that an announcement would be made on Wednesday (local time).


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