Saint Laurent to lose its Yves?
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Romeo and Juliet.
The fashion world had a minor tizzy this week when it was reported that “Newly-appointed creative director, Hedi Slimane, is keen to thrust Saint Laurent into a new era modern” (WWD) and proposed to do so by taking away the Yves, renaming the brand ‘Saint Laurent Paris’.
Quelle horreur. However, further reading revealed that actually this move was intended ‘only’ for the name of the fashion house, not the famous YSL brand mark seen in cosmetics and so forth. Slimane is said to be focusing on “recapturing the impulses that inspired the founder to launch the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line in 1966 – among them youth, freedom and modernity.” (The Daily Telegraph)
Ok then. What do you think? Are you still madly fluttering your fan and having the vapours? One can see how the re-name can mark a new era. And it’s totally in keeping with other famous brands that continue after the creative founder’s passing with just the surname (Chanel, Dior etc). But it seems a bit illogical. Yves Saint Laurent has a lovely singsong quality to it. Dropping the Yves kills this and makes it feel a little more formal, a little duller. And dropping the distinctive Christian name but adding the generic Paris? Surely the brand does not need to tack on this obvious provenance (even if they have a Paris perfume). It’s not like we think the brand hails from Salford.
It also seems illogical to change the name but retain the beautiful YSL logo. It was designed by Cassandre (he of those lovely travel posters). To me, this design caught the singsong rhythm of the name. I am delighted it is preserved, but isn’t it wonky to keep a classic design, yet change the name and reduce the personality behind it?
Perhaps the least logical part of the renaming rational is reported by Design Week “This move will see the branding and graphic identity for the ready-to-wear collection altered to return to that of the original 1966 ready-to-wear line…. with a return to the 1960s fonts and design principles.” Since when did celebrating a spirit of ’youth freedom and modernity’ mean going with retro styling?
I am sure Slimane and the brand’s owners know what they are doing far better than we armchair observers. And that this might all be a storm in a teacup. But if nothing else, the reporting and reaction of this name change suggests that actually there is quite a lot in a name after all.