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PARIS — Breaking his silence about splitting from Dior Homme, designer Hedi Slimane said he walked away freely, unwilling to compromise his principles “and the idea I have about fashion.”
In fact, Slimane said he first contemplated leaving the plum men’s wear post in July, when his contract expired and talks ensued about launching a Dior-backed Hedi Slimane fashion house.
“I tried to make things work for about a year,” Slimane wrote in a lengthy text posted on his Web site, hedislimane.com, over the weekend, days after Dior announced he would be replaced by Kris Van Assche. “I always kept in mind the precedence of some designers I admire who were in a similar situation and chose the other path.”
It is understood that Slimane was alluding to Helmut Lang and Jil Sander, who sold majority stakes in their fashion houses to Prada Group, only to end up clashing with management over strategy and leaving the design helm of their signature brands. (Prada ultimately sold both companies, and Sander is now designed by Raf Simons; Lang by Michael and Nicole Colovos, the founders of the Habitual label.)
“Perhaps [at] another time in my life, under other circumstances, my name, and the management of a company under my own label would be considered differently,” Slimane wrote. “Right now I feel it is very important to stay true to my principles.…I had no other choice than to refuse the kind of proposition that was made and to decline a new Dior Homme contract.”
Slimane’s assertions fly in the face of Dior’s version of events. Sources close to the French house said it was Slimane’s “extravagant” demands that ultimately led to the breakup.
Negotiations between the two parties have been protracted and often tense, with control rights among the most contentious issues. Reaching an impasse last June, Dior initiated discussions with Van Assche as a possible successor.
Still, Slimane continued to work for the house and pursue negotiations. A resolution seemed imminent on the eve of the Dior Homme show last January. However, sources said Slimane tabled new proposals concerning salary and control rights, a move that Dior considered unacceptable, ending their six-year collaboration.
As first reported in WWD last week, Dior Homme hired Van Assche, a Slimane alumnus, to take over the design reins for ready-to-wear and accessories. Although he started Monday, it was not clear yet when he will show his first collection for the French house.
In his statement, Slimane did not indicate his future intentions, but kept the door open to a reconciliation with Dior and the luxury group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
“I want to thank [LVMH chairman and chief executive officer] Bernard Arnault, who trusted me with this project,” Slimane wrote. “I hope he will understand my position and decision, if not now, then hopefully with some time.”
Slimane also thanked his teams, manufacturing partners and retailers, ending his post with a long list of artists, musicians, photographers and filmmakers with whom he collaborated.
The designer gave special mention to his young models, many of them cast from the streets of London and Berlin. “They have been a strong inspiration — if not the only one — and the reason why I designed the clothes,” he wrote. “I liked nothing more than seeing them take over the shows and making the clothes their own.”