Saint Laurent couture line another step in made-to-measure revival

Hedi Slimane oversees 24 per cent growth in brand's revenues in first half of fiscal year.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 12:12am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 12:12am

The rumours that have been circling are true: controversial label Saint Laurent has recently confirmed that it is reviving its haute couture collection, after more than a decade. But it is unclear whether the brand will show at Paris' seasonal haute couture fashion weeks or if it will even do a standard fashion show at all.

The new ad campaign for the line is a series of black-and-white images shot in June by creative director Hedi Slimane. It stars a model dancing in a flowing long dress, with the brand's cavernous new Couture House building in Paris as the backdrop.

The image features the kind of elegance that many critics had been looking for since Slimane took over the brand and went full-blown rocker-grunge.

Slimane had, in fact, been working on this hand-sewn atelier line catering to both women and men since 2012. No doubt the debut will be a huge deal - everyone in fashion is watching with bated breath.

Outfits will be made at "l'Atelier flou" or "l'Atelier tailleur" (respectively for dressmaking and tailoring). Both are located inside the Couture House, which was once home to the Hôtel de Sénecterre, constructed in 1685 during the reign of Louis XIV.

Slimane has a reputation for being combative with the media - excessively controlling and unwilling to give interviews - but his cooler-than-thou attitude has paid off. Because, despite that uneasy relationship with the press, the brand's revenue has grown by 24 per cent in the first half of this fiscal year. So he must be doing something right.

Saint Laurent accessories, it must be noted, have become hugely popular, especially in Asia where it now joins other big hitters in the handbag sector such as Chanel, Prada and Hermès .

Now with couture, the brand might not just grow financially, but also bring a new level of aesthetics that we yearn for from high fashion - one that goes beyond baby doll dresses and skinny suits. Yves Saint Laurent Couture feels full of potential.

With continual reports of recession hitting the headlines, it might be surprising that this very expensive niche of bespoke fashion is experiencing a resurgence after decades of stagnation.

In recent years, we've seen a new couture line from Dolce & Gabbana; Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolli at Valentino stepping up their couture game; and John Galliano's couture line rejuvenating the Maison Margiela label.

Then there are some Middle Eastern designers who bring new ideas and cultural relevance to a scene very much supported by oil-rich clients from the region. That might just explain the recent revival of couture, because it's certainly a luxury that only the global elite can afford. While the struggles of the middle class are well documented, the super-rich global elites are only getting richer. This is good news for couture houses, bad news for everyone else.