It is official, fashion is dead. Fashion designers have continuously resigned from their roles at some of the most prestigious fashion names. From Dior, to Lanvin, Yves Saint Laurent, all these brands are dying as their respectives Artistic Directors are leaving their position. Most of them declared that they do not accept anymore the conditions and the pressure in which they live constantly. The industry of fashion is killing fashion. Luxury Fashion Houses are changing to become fashion labels and ultimately generic apparel items. A new model need to be find.
Hedi, Albert, Raf, Stefano, Christophe, John… all gone.
Every chain reaction has a starting point. In our case here it all started back in 2007 when Hedi Slimane resigned from his position at Dior Homme. At that time everybody was shocked. When Hedi Slimane took over the artistic direction of Dior homme in 2000, he reshaped the fashion brand and satellized the Dior name into the stars of fashion desire. The Slimane look was born, very black tie, slim and rock. He became as the same time a fashion icon and probably he was and still is one of the most influential person in the world of fashion and photography. So at the top of his work in Dior Homme, Hedi Slimane decided to leave the fashion house in 2007 because he did not have the right conditions to create and develop his artistic work. Never before an artistic director resigned of his own will. At this time we could already feel that the fashion industry was little by little killing the fashion art. Today, almost 10 years later, the fashion bleeding continues:
- Raf Simons
- Albert Elbaz
- Christophe Decarnin
- John Galliano
- Alexander McQueen
- Brendan Mullane
- Alexandro Sartori
- Stefano Pilati
- Hedi Slimane (again)
Alexander McQueen was gone at the top of his art, John Galliano just got crazy while driving the media machine that was Dior Couture and Prêt-à-porter at that time. Stefano Pilati had already left Yves Saint Laurent to join the Ermenegildo Zegna group and now he is leaving his position again.
Raf Simons and Albert Albaz both declared that basically they felt like being lemons that you press the juice to the very last drop. The pressure of 4 to 6 collections per year, the PR pressure and the growing challenges of industry seeking rentability is pathetic. How can you create an original and innovative fashion item without the correct amount of time. Most of the time you have basically weeks to create and build the next big thing.
Alessandro Sartori is considered as one of the most gifted and creative tailorman in the all Italy. Since 2011, he was asked by Bernard Arnaud, to reinvent Berluti. He launched amazing collections that definitely hit the spotlights, bringing the Italian Bottier to the forefront of avant-garde. According to LVMH, Sartori’s collections did not find the expected traditional Berluti customer.
He was asked to make some changes in order to be more consensuous. An agreement was basically impossible as we can imagine that such a creative talent do not wish to level down things by taking the lowest common denominator. The same story happened with Brendan Mullane at Brioni. After a very successful comeback, the Italian fashion house became again one of the cherish on the cake of the Milanese fashion week. Nevertheless, many differences of opinion brought the artistic collaboration between the British designer and the Italian brand to an end.
When Raf Simons arrived at Dior Femme, after a disastorous end with Galliano, all the press was 100% positive about this new collaboration. Everybody would say that Raf Simons had the talent, the perfectionism and the modern cut that Dior deserved. He was expected to calm down the game and get back to a brand construction. After an amazing success with his own brand Raf by Raf Simons, the Belgian creator was the best choice for Dior. On the 9th of April 2012 joins the House of Dior as Artistic Director, 15 month after the departure of Galliano. He had under his responsability Couture, Pret-à-porter and fashion accessories. He was the perfect translation of what Dior’s newlook would be in the years 2000. He was nominated at the Crystal globes as per best fashion designer in the world. Despite of getting such a positive feeling, he decided to resign from Dior on October 22nd 2015. The pressure and the lack of time to produce his art was not helping the emancipation of a creative mind. So the Belgian gifted fashion creator decided that it was better to leave than doing compromises. Raf Simons is considered as one of the most important fashion creators of the past 10 years.
Stefano Pilati was born in Milan in 1965. He is one of the most talented creators of his generation. After collaborating with Tom Ford, he took over Yves Saint Laurent in 2004. A first collection was considered disappointing by the critics but very fast, Stefano Pilati found the right path and places Yves Saint Laurent on track for success. Again, the amazing work that Pilati did with Saint Laurent did not convince the board and after some heavy discussions, the collaboration ended up in 2012.
Last but not least, the one and only Hedi Slimane! When back in July 2007 he decided to quit Dior Homme, it was a blast in this industry. LVMH even proposed to finance Slimane own brand but the French creator refused. The message started being very clear: a creative mind has less and less room to express his talent. The rythmn of collections, the PR expectations and the business behind it do not allow it. 5 years later, Hedi Slimane joins Yves Saint Laurent (2012) after Stefano Pilati’s departure. On his own words, he becomes the “Directeur de la Création pour la Couture”. He decides to change the brand name to Saint Laurent Paris and delocalize the creative studio to Los Angeles. The Kering Group, owner of the brand, saw Hedi Slimane as a very positive addition to the Yves Saint Laurent universe. Hedi Slimane has already worked for the luxury fashion house from 1996 and 2000 and the idea was to get back to a more Saint Laurent style with a hint of modernity. 3 years later, Hedi Slimane decides to quit the brand as there are “differences of opinion” between him and the group.
Fashion Apocalypse, what now?
As we can see, the fashion industry is bleeding from its creativity. So what is going to happen now? Probably Luxury houses are going to be treated as labels, in which apparel is going to be more important than creation. It will show us the difference between a Fashion Creator and a Designer. The first one generates a dream universe in which the piece of clothe is a vehicule. The second, will run the look through the lens of shapes, colours and functionality. It is like going from Dior Couture to TopShop. Naturally both brands have their own purposes but one should not replace the other.
What we do expect now is to see what all these creators are going to do? They cannot come back to an industry mode and they might not have enough resources to create a different model. Nevertheless, the fashion industry needs to reinvent itself. A new model should be developed and more respect to creation to be re-established. Albert Elbaz, Raf Simons, Stefano Pilati, Hedi Slimane… All heros of a tragedy that, hopefully, will find its happy end.