PARIS — Finally, a denouement for Yves Saint Laurent’s shuttered couture business.
This story first appeared in the January 7, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Closing the books on a dramatic 2002, the house on Monday gave a final accounting for its 160 employees, whose futures were the subject of empathy, acrimony and court battles in the wake of the couturier’s retirement.
According to couture chief Pierre Bergé, the majority of the affected workers, 49, found jobs at other couture or ready-to-wear houses, including Jean Paul Gaultier and Azzedine Alaïa. Of the others: 36 took retirement or preretirement; 27 were contract employees whose contracts expired; 17 found jobs in other industries; 12 are training for new careers; nine are starting their own businesses, and the remaining 10 have joined the YSL museum.
As reported, Saint Laurent’s fabled 5 Avenue Marceau headquarters will become a foundation housing the Saint Laurent museum, currently in suburban Paris, as well as sponsoring cultural activities.
The couture house actually went dark last Oct. 31, but Monday marked the first time Bergé detailed his “social plan” for the affected workers.
Last summer, French retail titan François Pinault, who funded the money-losing career operation since acquiring the brand in 1999, had sold the house for a symbolic euro, or $1, to Patrice Bouygues, a French industrialist. Bouygues intended to transform Saint Laurent’s formidable workrooms into a multibrand couture operation. But workers, who contended that Bouygues was not forthcoming about the health of his finances, rebutted his plans in court.
Last July, Saint Laurent and Bergé purchased the house from Pinault, also for a euro, and began hammering out an agreement with the workers, who must be compensated under French law. It is believed the package totaled about $16 million.