Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent

During his three-year reign as creative director at Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane has shaken the house to its core—starting with that controversial name change to, most recently, his reinstatement of its couture atelier. In a new interview with Yahoo Style (one of just a few given since starting in his current position in 2012), Slimane points out that that’s ​exactly​ what he was trying to do—fulfill the vision of the house’s legendary founder, Yves Saint Laurent, and ensure it reaches its full potential. Read on for the conversation’s highlights, then peruse the full exchange at Yahoo.

On bringing couture back to the house of Saint Laurent: “I had this precise idea in mind from really the beginning in 2012, and it took all those years to have all the elements ready, the House, the Ateliers, the team, and of course the Ready-to-Wear in place.”

On building new couture salons: “It was actually the most significant and necessary symbol, and the first element of discussion when the group approached me in 2011. I was convinced Yves Saint Laurent needed a new home, an historical Couture House…Six months after I started the project, I went for a showing of 24 Rue de l’Université. The hotel particulier was in poor condition, but I fell in love with it right away. It felt right for Yves Saint Laurent, the architecture, the elegant size, the rigorous courtyard.”

Related article: Yves Saint Laurent Brings Couture Back

On the “Reform Project” he designed for the house as a whole, which included building the Couture House, finding new factories, redesigning the leather goods business, overhauling Saint Laurent’s stores and branding and incorporating his own photography:“I always start all my design projects with writing a synopsis, a perspective around the fundamentals of a House, together with my intentions or intuitions on what should be done…The reform project is therefore about the unity and consistency of all those systemic changes that were needed to comfort the progression and accuracy of the House of Yves Saint Laurent.”

On why he changed the ready-to-wear from “Yves Saint Laurent” to “Saint Laurent” and the ensuing media storm: ​”Historically, Yves decided with Pierre in 1966 to name his revolutionary ready-to-wear ‘Saint Laurent Rive Gauche’…It was for him a distinctive sign of modernity, and a drastic change from the Couture label…Naturally, I couldn’t possibly imagine that going back to the historical and most respectful roots of Yves would create such a polemic…Rather than “dropping the Yves” the restoration of a spirit of Couture was intended a few years down the line…With the House now completed, the two names exist as they always did historically, next to the monogram designed by the artist Cassandre.”

On his connection to Yves Saint Laurent the man: “It can be through different ideas and mediums, but Yves is always on my mind, it is a constant point of reference.”

Related article: Flo Dron Fronts Saint Laurent Fall 2015 Campaign

On working under Saint Laurent himself, as men’s ready-to-wear director from 1996-2000:“I also would never forget Pierre asking me to take pictures in the backstage of the final couture show. I have this moving archive of that historical show, Yves overwhelmed, Loulou [de la Falaise] next to him, looking for the last time at all he had created…The most meaningful was certainly the first Dior Homme show, with Yves and Pierre in the audience. Pierre had called me the day before to let me know Yves wanted to come. The day of the show it was the only thing I could think about and that mattered to me.”

On designing a shoe as the foundation of the collection each season: “The shoes set up the tone and attitude, they change the perception of the way one wears clothes, what we call in France ‘Le porté.’ It is not about length, but the juxtaposition or ‘décalage’ of the shoes (high or low) with the rest of the proportions.”

On creating a new aesthetic for the house: “My new approach was about realism, and what was around me, but miles away from the prevailing conceptual and immaculate approach of woman’s fashion in 2012.”

Via HarpersBazaar.com