PARIS — Add another name to the list of designer defections this season: Yiqing Yin has parted with Leonard after two years as creative director of the French fashion house, WWD has learned.
The two parties said they had mutually agreed not to renew Yin’s two-year contract to allow her to concentrate on her own label, which she is seeking to grow in Asia.
“I needed more time to focus on my own brand,” the Chinese-born designer said, adding that she plans to dedicate more time to the kind of intricate couture designs that launched her career in 2011. In recent seasons, Yin’s couture creations had become less richly detailed, reflecting her increased workload.
“I am going to concentrate more on going back to the experimental codes and the creative generosity there was at the beginning,” she said.
Yin chimed in to the conversation about fashion’s overheated system, which has intensified following the shock departure of Raf Simons from Dior and the decision by Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough not to allow their pre-fall collection to be photographed or reviewed until it hits stores next year.
“It’s frenetic and there is never a pause, so sometimes you need to have the wisdom to take a step back and remember why you do this job, and not become a slave to the system,” Yin said. “I’m going to put more emphasis on couture and center on what I love doing and what I do best, because time and concentration can’t be multiplied.”
During her time at Leonard, Yin modernized the label by giving a three-dimensional aspect to its signature prints, and introducing her trademark draped silhouettes. “Even if there were some divergences of opinion on strategy, my experience at Leonard was very positive and enriching,” she said.
The label has struggled to find the right balance between commerce and creativity as it seeks to appeal to a new generation of customers. Yin was the third designer at the house since Véronique Leroy left in 2011 after eight years at the helm.
Leonard managing director Nathalie Tribouillard-Chassaing said that while she was certain her customers were ready to buy Yin’s creations, many runway looks did not make it into stores because they were too complex or costly — a fact for which both sides were to blame, she added.
“We liked Yiqing a lot. We even tried to see how we could continue working with her in a different way, but she has too much going on, so for now, we agreed it was best not to do it. She didn’t have the time,” the executive said, adding that the house has yet to find a replacement.
“What we have done is to hire a collections director who will work with designers on a more product-oriented line, before we go back to communicating from a design perspective, because we need products that sell right away,” Tribouillard-Chassaing said.