Designers and labels: a study in perpetual motion

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 02 March, 2012, 12:00am


The hottest news in fashion is the announcement this week of the departure of Stefano Pilati from the esteemed house of Yves Saint Laurent, which he has been heading since 2000.

In yet another fashion industry reshuffle, the designer, who was rumoured to be leaving since sometime last season, has formally confirmed his move from the PPR owned label.

Chatter in the fashion world is focused on the musical chairs going on at many of the major houses in the past few seasons.

As well as the 'reinvention' of many iconic brands by young, PR friendly, 'fresh blood' creative directors - think Nicola Formichetti at Thierry Mugler, Manish Arora at Paco Rabanne and Opening Ceremony's Humberto Leon, and Carol Lim for Kenzo). It seems that both labels and designers have been getting itchy feet. Perhaps it's a sign of the industry becoming increasingly fast paced and cutthroat, or the pressures of keeping a brand in the limelight and the designer on their toes.

And since this is the ruthless world of fashion, focus is not only on the man leaving the prestigious position but who should be taking over. Out with the old and in with the new, so they say. So what can be garnered of Pilati's replacement?

The front runner is rumoured to be Hedi Slimane, but the French label has not yet confirmed an appointment. Slimane, the man credited with defining a new late 1990s menswear aesthetic with his skinny cuts whilst heading the creative team at Dior Homme, has been a much admired and watched designer ever since his time at Dior. Even Karl Lagerfeld once said that he was encouraged to lose weight so he could fit into Slimane's slim cut clothes. Slimane has been focusing on his photography for the last few years, resulting in a set of portraits and artful black and white images which were exhibited at various galleries and collated into a book called Anthology of a Decade.

This choice is perhaps not such a huge surprise as it would initially seem. The label, now with a very successful accessories business, in part credited to Pilati, might be ready for a creative shake up. Slimane is sharp, thoughtful and has enough kudos and respect in the industry to take on such a role. Previous reports were that Raf Simons, who is making a formal departure from Jil Sander, would also be a strong contender in the race. The tangled web gets more complicated, since news of Simon being replaced by the founder of the Jil Sander label (who will return as creative head) had already shocked many in previous months.

Don't feel bad if you can't keep up - every fashion week season is bound to have some spectacle, with John Galliano's anti-semitic rants and subsequent dismissal from Dior topping last year's list. But really, what's fashion without a large helping of dramatics?