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YSL’s Paul Deneve: ‘Hedi vs. Raf’ Obscures Fashion Moment

The president and ceo of Saint Laurent Paris wrote a letter to the editor at WWD.

To the Editor:

I read with interest the article published in WWD Collections on Nov. 19, “Paris Match” (comparing Hedi Slimane’s debut at Saint Laurent with Raf Simons’ debut at Dior). I always enjoy reading WWD reports but I was disappointed not to see this one take its usual neutral stance. So I’d like to make the following points:

First, the article summarizes the reviews as “comparatively tepid” for “Slimane’s reverential treatment of smokings (tuxedos) and bohemian dresses,” only quoting three editors, one of them admittedly partial (Cathy Horyn: “a cheerleader” for Raf Simons, the article says). This does not reflect the highly positive coverage Hedi Slimane received from the press commentators around the world, from France to Italy, Japan, China and the U.S.

I regret that the best-known and oldest trade journal in the fashion industry should reduce the collective talent of all designers showing in Paris to a so-called duel between two fashion houses and two men. The article accords little space to the many other creative talents who showed during Paris Fashion Week and it was about so much more than “Hedi vs. Raf.”

Finally, to caricature the arrival of Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent to a banal rivalry with another house or designer encourages people to relegate fashion to a sideshow rather than the main event. In particular, it obscures what is a much richer and I think more important moment in the fashion industry. Hedi’s choice to join YSL was motivated by a very clear vision for the house, which means round-the-clock work for him and all my teams to turn that vision into a reality for all to see and enjoy. It is also for them that I am writing, and to point out that the changes under way at Yves Saint Laurent will bring new excitement and change to the fashion industry at large.

Yours sincerely,
Paul Deneve
President and CEO,
Saint Laurent Paris