PARIS — Hedi Slimane’s phone is likely to start ringing a lot more.
He may be more committed than ever to Dior Homme, having renewed in July his employment contract with the French house and expanded his responsibilities to men’s fragrance and cosmetics. But WWD has learned that Slimane, one of the most acclaimed fashion talents of his generation, is otherwise free to pursue women’s wear or any other design project he pleases, conceivably from furniture to automobiles.
“I’m not exclusive anymore at Dior; it’s a major change,” Slimane said in an interview, revealing for the first time select details of his three-year contract. “I’d like to do different things. Designing is very interesting for me. It’s also a way for me to be fresh and happy and much more creative.
“I’m not exclusive, so I can do women’s wear; that’s not an issue anymore. I might do that someday. Now every door is open.”
Slimane has already dabbled in areas beyond Dior men’s wear. Next week, he launches his first book of photography, titled “Berlin.” And later this year, he unveils home designs for Italian furniture giant Cappellini.
But he stressed he is in no hurry to pursue a signature women’s label or sign up with another house. In fact, just back from a vacation in Sydney, Australia, and Ibiza, he confessed, “I still don’t know how I will organize my way of working.”
But Slimane’s new “freelance” status is likely to attract enormous interest. After gaining an international reputation for his edgy, androgynous men’s wear at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche before it was acquired by Gucci Group, Slimane entertained offers from Prada Group and Gucci, too, which had proposed to back a Hedi Slimane fashion house.
Ultimately, he accepted a proposal from Bernard Arnault, chairman of luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, to bring his brand of rigorous minimalism and precision tailoring to Christian Dior. Over the past three years at Dior Homme, he has won critical praise and attracted such high-profile customers as Karl Lagerfeld, Bryan Ferry and Mick Jagger. But his list of female devotees is long, too, including the likes of Madonna, Nicole Kidman, Linda Evangelista and Charlotte Rampling. His original contract allowed him to produce about 10 percent of his collection in small sizes — and it is believed his latest contract allows for the same.Told that retailers are anxious to see a complete women’s apparel collection from him, Slimane replied: “I don’t feel rushed, just as I didn’t feel rushed to do men’s wear, either.”
Slimane declined all comment about which women’s wear houses might be potential matches for him. As reported, he had been in discussions with LVMH to take up the couture and ready-to-wear reins at Givenchy. Those talks were abandoned last January.
Pressed further, Slimane would only say: “I might do something when it’s the right brand, when I feel something for it. You need to believe in the name. It’s not for the sake of doing it — it needs to be the right project.”
Slimane said he feels energized by his new creative freedom, which he plans to channel immediately to fast-growing Dior Homme. Sales there are believed to have advanced 40 percent last year. “I feel much more committed to Dior now because I feel much more free to do it,” he said.
As reported, Slimane oversaw the campaign for the new fragrance Higher Energy, launching worldwide this month. Having shot the print advertising with Bruce Weber in New York in July, he is now in discussions with the photographer to do a TV commercial for the scent.
Slimane said he’s gearing up to oversee other fragrance projects, and supervising a rollout of more Dior men’s departments and stores, including a 2,000-square-foot unit slated to bow on 57th Street in New York in December.
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