OPINION / STYLE

rip ysl

Yves Saint Laurent is one of the most iconic brands in the fashion world, with a history rich with pivotal fashion moments that have shaped the way we wear clothes today. Yves himself died in 2008 and I have to wonder what he’d think of the changes to his eponymous brand that he built over decades, if he were around today.

The iconic label now has a new name. “Saint Laurent Paris” has been updated across the website and across the RTW lines, but the cosmetics lines still remain as Yves Saint Laurent. The new name doesn’t have quite the same ring to it in my opinion.

As the new name was first applied to the RTW line, there were some who speculated it was a move to reinvigorate the RTW line – which is a move I’d agree with. Marc by Marc Jacobs, See by Chloe, MiuMiu from Prada – many high fashion houses have successfully differentiated a ready to wear line that is aimed at a younger, and perhaps less affluent (but only slightly less) market.

This name, however, intends to be all encompassing, marking the end of the trademark name, Yves Saint Laurent. So far, it has consumers confused and critics concerned.

Essentially, it’s been very poorly executed and communicated. This isn’t just me saying this – this is the sentiment of branding and communications experts the world over. It will have a short term negative impact on customer relationships and possibly sales, and will require huge dollars to educate consumers about the brand name changes. It is especially confusing that the beauty line still bears the original name.

I don’t like it, because it seems the brand is quietly shedding its story and its history. The site is now abstract and modern, with little to no brand heritage information. An icon like Yves Saint Laurent should proudly herald this history whilst looking to the future, but I suppose Saint Laurent Paris is more focused on creating a new name for itself and new stories.

There is speculation as to why the name change, to fix something that is clearly not broken. Sometimes, name changes are neccessary to reinvigorate a dormant brand and make it relevant – just as House of Carven became simply Carven when it appointed a new creative director that has brought the brand into the 21st century and extended its life. YSL though? Really? It seems this wasn’t the case.

Could it be, that after the death of Yves himself in 2008, new management finally feel they can make the change they’ve been waiting for? Could it be under the direction of new creative director Hedi Slimane, wanting to make his own mark?

Who knows, and I suppose only time will tell. It’s impossible to kill such an iconic brand and it will recover, but I have to admit, I was surprisingly upset by the death of the brand “Yves Saint Laurent” so to speak. It seems I’m not alone either – the mark of a truly successful brand is when it can trigger emotions in consumers. Yves is such an elegant name, it’s a shame to see it gone. I’m sure this will be great news however, for owners of YSL pieces, as the value is sure to skyrocket.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF YSL’S SUCCESSES
– Was the director of Christian Dior after Dior himself passed away
– Launched his own label, YSL with great success
– Feminised men’s garments to be worn by women, revolutionising the fashion world
– The most famous example of this is his Le Smoking, but he also had success with tuxedo jackets, pantsuits, safari suits, pea jackets and flying suits for women
– He was one of the first designers to use models of ethnic minorities
– He shocked the world by posing nude for his fragrance Pour Homme – it seems Marc Jacobs took a leaf out of his book
– His fragrances were a huge success and have stood the test of time, particularly Opium
– YSL has a successful cosmetics line, with best sellers such as Touche Eclat

“I want to thank all the women who have worn my clothes, the famous and the unknown, who have been so faithful to me and given me so much joy ”
Yves Saint Laurent

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