Designer Hedi Slimane, whose admirers include rock stars and fashion trade peers, will soon become creative director at Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), industry sources told AFP at the weekend.

"/> Designer Hedi Slimane, whose admirers include rock stars and fashion trade peers, will soon become creative director at Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), industry sources told AFP at the weekend.

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Hedi Slimane to return to YSL: industry sources

Designer Hedi Slimane, whose admirers include rock stars and fashion trade peers, will soon become creative director at Yves Saint Laurent (YSL), industry sources told AFP at the weekend.

“The contract has been signed by both sides,” one fashion insider said. “He is becoming the new director at Yves Saint Laurent.”

Other sources said the appointment was to be officially announced in the coming week. Paris Fashion Week runs from February 28th to March 7th. 

A spokesman for the PPR group, which owns YSL, declined to comment.

It will be Slimane’s second stint at the legendary fashion house, having worked there in the late 1990s as head of the menswear collection.

Slimane, whose father is Tunisian and mother Italian, is returning to the fashion industry after several years away.

He has been based in Los Angeles during an extended sabbatical from the fashion world, working mainly in photography. A lot of his work is in black and white — and much of it features the rock milieu.

He is still only 43, having made his mark at Christian Dior between 2000 and 2007, where he is generally acknowledged to have revolutionised menswear.

During his time there, he made Dior Homme each season’s must-see show.

A rock fan and artist, Slimane drove an androgynous look of skinny suits and tight low trousers that found its imitators not just in the fashion world but spread into the rock world that so fascinates him.

Stars Mick Jagger and Pete Doherty have gone on stage in Dior Homme, while designer Jean-Paul Gaultier once said he could not do better than Slimane.

Even the legendary Karl Lagerfeld shed some 45 kilos (90 pounds) to be able to slide into a pencil-thin Slimane suit.

The look Slimane developed was much copied by mass-market designers across the world and even influenced the design of women’s clothes.

At the height of his fame, some young followers even adopted Slimane’s distinctive Tintin-like quiff.

Slimane is recognised not just as a talented designer but as a master showman, with a gift for creating buzz around his collections.

He sent groups of models out onto the catwalk instead of having them walk out one by one. He carefully stage managed every event, even hiring rock groups to provide the music for his collections.

Slimane will replace the Italian designer Stefano Pilati, sources said.

Considered by his peers as one of the most gifted designers of his generation, Slimane stepped down from his post at Dior saying he wanted a chance to design for women.

Although he has never designed a full-scale women’s collection, during his time at Dior Homme he did produce creations for women in limited quantities, which were much sought after.

In any case, according to the trade paper Women’s Wear Daily, the old guard at YSL believe in his talent.

With the move to YSL, Slimane is coming full circle.

He first arrived there in 1997 as head of the menswear collection, leaving in 2000 when the Italian house Gucci bought it and brought in its house stylist Tom Ford.

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Paris exhibition celebrates 100 years of French Vogue

A new exhibition in Paris will tell the story of 100 years of French Vogue - from the post-war 'New Look' of Christian Dior through the sexual liberation of the 1960s to the dangling-cigarette waifs of the 2000s.

French Vogue celebrates 100 years
French Vogue celebrates 100 years. Photo: Thomas Olva/AFP

But as well as celebrating the magazine’s storied history, the exhibit comes at a time of turbulence for the publication.

Just last month, it was confirmed that its editor of 10 years, Emmanuelle Alt, was out and wouldn’t be replaced.

She was not alone.

Looking to cut costs, owner Conde Nast International has axed editors across Europe over the past year, and put international Vogue editions under the direct control of global editorial director, Anna Wintour, in New York.

New York-based Anna Wintour now has overall control of French Vogue. Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

Like much of the media industry, Vogue is struggling with tumbling sales and ad revenue in the digital era.

But the latest twist is also part of the endless push and pull between New York and Paris going back to its early days.

“The whole history of French Vogue is one of back-and-forth with Conde Nast in New York – growing more independent for a while, then being reined back in,” said Sylvie Lecallier, curator of the new exhibition, “Vogue Paris 1920-2020″, which opened this weekend after a year’s delay due to the pandemic.

The Paris edition was often the loftier, more bohemian sibling to its more hard-nosed New York version.

But it was also the hotbed in which much of 20th century style and womenhood came to be defined.

“Paris was the place to hunt out talent and content and bring it to New York,” said Lecallier.

The exhibition charts the evolution from art deco drawings of the 1920s through the erotic image-making of photographers like Helmut Newton in the 1960s and 1970s.

Its last peak was under editor Carine Roitfeld in the 2000s, who brought back a provocative Gallic identity by ridding the newsroom of foreign staff and becoming a fashion icon in her own right.

Her successor, Alt, was a quieter presence, though she still oversaw key moments including its first transgender cover star, Brazilian Valentina Sampaio, in 2017.

But internet culture has created “a perfect storm” for Vogue, says media expert Douglas McCabe of Enders Analysis.

“The first 80 years of Vogue’s life, it had the market to itself, it was the bible for fashion,” McCabe told AFP.

“But online today, there are so many other ways to get your information. Influencers, Instagram, YouTube — everyone’s a threat.”

In a world where new fashion trends can blow up around the world in seconds, it has become much harder for a monthly magazine to set the pace.

“It’s not that they can’t survive for another 100 years — but they will be differently sized,” McCabe said.

Vogue has tried to branch out into different areas, including events.

“I used to work for a magazine, and today I work for a brand,” Alt said on the eve of French Vogue’s 1,000th issue in 2019.

But the big money was always in print, and Vogue Paris sales are dropping steadily from 98,345 in 2017 to 81,962 to 2020, according to data site ACPM.

It is perhaps unsurprising that the new top job in Paris, redefined as “head of editorial content”, went to Eugenie Trochu, who was key to building the magazine’s online presence.

She declared herself “thrilled to be part of Vogue’s international transformation”.

For the curator of the exhibition, it is ironic timing.

“We had no idea it would end like this when we started work on the exhibition,” said Lecallier.

“Who knows where it will go from here.”

The exhibition Vogue Paris 1920-2020 is at the Palais Galliera in Paris’ 16th arrondissement. The gallery is open 10am to 6pm Tuesday to Sunday and is closed on Mondays. Tickets for the exhibition are €14 (€12 for concessions and under 18s go free) and must be reserved online in advance.