Friday chronicle #23 – What if Hedi Slimane joins Chanel as Artistic Director?

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Hedi Slimane officially left Yves Saint Laurent, a lot of fashion experts are speculating about what would be his next move. At LuxuryActivist we know there is only one possibility. It is Chanel. Not only because it is Chanel but there are several reasons that proves that this move would be the only obvious move for Hedi Slimane. Here are the arguments.

1- He dreams about a French Global multi-category brand

Hedi Slimane was never such a rebel that he would dare going to a more alternative parcours. He always dreamed to work for well known-brands and his versatility as an artist, fashion designer and photographer makes him consider different angles in terms of products and activities. That’s why Chanel would be the perfect brand with equally strength between Fashion, Make-up and Fragrances. Its international aura would allow him to deploy his art at a global scale.
Hedi Slimane started his career already in this perspective. At the age of 24 he assisted Jacques Picart on his project around the Louis Vuitton monogram 100th anniversary (1994). Almost just after that Pierre Berger asked him to take care of the Men’s Collections Direction of Yves Saint Laurent and in 1996 he becomes Artistic Director for the luxury French house. In Autumn-winter 2000 to 2001, Hedi Slimane launched the Black Tie collection and it was his initial skinny silhouette signature. After that, he was offered to become the Artistic Director of Jil Sander but he had bigger plans as he wanted to have a more global and multi-facetted beautiful luxury house. That is why he decided to accept the offer from LVMH and become the Artistic Director of Christian Dior Men’s collection. For the first time he had the feeling to get a platform that would allow him to deploy all his art. He reshape Dior Homme in such ways that the franchise would go from a dying business to the mot hot brand of the decade. It was the start of the Hedi Slimane influence in the entire fashion industry. Under the “Dior Homme” franchise he completely redesigned the Dior man’s silhouette: skinny, punk-rock and glamourous. He launched a series of cutting edge fragrances, the Dior homme colognes that was considered as true references from a creative perspective. In the same range of fragrances he launched a series of Candles as well and the Black candle became almost a cult to Hedi Slimane’s personality. After fragrances, he launched a collection of men’s grooming products called Dior homme Dermo System. All these products were minimalistic, white and black and the formulas as the scents were raw, highly qualitative and completely unique. For the first time Hedi Slimane was able to develop his universe across several activities under a same brand.
Chanel would represent for Hedi Slimane the possibility to work on several categories, from Prêt-à-Porter, Haute Couture, Make.up, Cosmetics and Fragrances as well as accessories. After reshaping the men’s fashion landscape in the years 2000, he dream to do the same thing with women’s fashion and for that he needs a brand with legitimacy in that domain. Chanel would definitely bring that to him.


2- Karl Lagerfeld loves Hedi Slimane

One mandatory condition to see Hedi Slimane join Chanel is the capacity of Karl Lagerfeld to accept it. In this case Karl Lagerfeld loves Hedi Slimane. He worship his work as fashion designer. Like Karl Lagerfeld, Hedi Slimane is sharp, contrasted and has a minimalistic sense of things that would go perfectly a long with the approach of the Fashion Kaiser. Heidi Slimane is a photographer, like Karl Lagerfeld, and he is probably one of the few photographers in the world that Karl Lagerfeld would accept to be photographed by. Naturally there is a natural fit here that would facilitate the arrival of Hedi Slimane in Chanel’s Artistic Direction. Karl Lagerfeld met Hedi Slimane 20 years ago for the first time. He liked him immediately and when he was asked to photograph Hedi Slimane Dior Homme clothes, he realized one needed to be skinny to get into his apparel. That is why he went on a severe diet. So as we can see Karl Lagerfeld could only work with Hedi Slimane today.

3- Hedi Slimane has the right reputation to perpetuate Chanel’s legend

A French luxury house like Chanel, needs strong charismatic and iconic people in its leading positions. For years Karl Lagerfeld and Jaques Helleu built and perpetuated the Chanel’s iconic story. Such a brand can only have charismatic and strong artists at the head of operations. Heidi Slimane would be the right person. He has a huge PR coverage, he is for sure one of the most influential person in fashion for the past 16 years. He dedicated himself to work and has gained the respect of many and the desire of the press. He might not reach the same “universality” as Karl Lagerfeld but he will definitely get the attention of the entire fashion industry. In order to embrace the Chanel world, an Artistic Director needs to be ultra talented, educated to the world of fashion and beautiful brands, he needs to have a strong personality so that he can drive the brand forward and yet enough respect for what has been accomplished. Hedi Slimane would be perfect for Chanel in these sense. His vision and his determination would definitely lead Chanel torwards a new decade of success.

Hedi Slimane would reconnect Chanel N.5 to fashion. The brand was never successful with that.


One tremendous challenge for Chanel is still today the connection between the fashion activity and the iconic fragrance Chanel N.5. So far there is a link missing in this story and potentially Hedi Slimane would be able to find the missing link. When Chanel N.5 was launched in 1921, Coco Chanel would offered it only to her best customers. If you would wear that fragrance this would mean that you were a Chanel woman. At that time you could not buy the fragrance. It was exclusive and even elitist. It was a fragrance connected with Coco Chanel fashion and character: classic with a hint of cutting edge modernity. Several decades later, Chanel N.5 became the most sold fragrance in the entire world, almost a brand by itself. Why Chanel never succeeded to connect the mythic fragrance to the fashion world? Probably it was Marilyn Monroe’s fault. By associating herself to the Chanel’s fragrance, she went beyond the brand itself and installed Chanel N.5 as the ultimate feminine symbol. For several years, Chanel kept alive the myth of Marilyn Monroe but they never connected the woman to the fashion. All advertising campaigns, from Carole Bouquet, to Audrey Tautou, Nicole Kidman or Gisele Bundchen, never made the bridge. Hedi Slimane has a true global approach. He would invest the feminine fashion and connect it to the iconic femininity of Chanel N.5. He would join the dots between Coco Chanel, Marilyn Monroe and fashion. One image, one approach and one allure.

Hedi Slimane knows how to do IT products and Chanel needs it.

Several brands have iconic IT products. When it comes to fashion, most of the brands have iconic handbags for example.

  • Hermes has the Kelly
  • Prada has the Bowling bag
  • Fendi has the Baguette
  • Bottega Venetta has the Woven bag
  • Givenchy has the Antigona
  • Gucci has the Jackie
  • Alexander McQueen has the Novak
  • Longchamp has the Pliage
  • Dior has the Lady Dior

Naturally Chanel has the 2.55 but definitely not at the level of the previous ones and in all cases it has been a while that there is no news from this handbag. For sure Chanel has strong brand codes. Everybody knows that bi-colored shoes for women were invented by Coco Chanel. But it is hard to put a  name on a pair of shoes, handbag or piece of clothe. Hedi Slimane is a machine to build IT products. Sometimes everything he touches becomes pure gold. When he got back to Yves Saint Laurent, the French luxury brand had a total sales of €350million. When he left the brand this year, Yves Saint Laurent reached €900million. He almost tripled the company turnover in only 4 years. Chanel would definitely need some Slimane magic in order to place the brand in todays news.


Hedi Slimane would modernize Chanel Haute Couture

Chanel and haute couture is a big love story. No haute couture season can happen without Chanel. The brand kept a strong guideline throughout the years and Karl Lagerfeld has perpetuated the work of Coco Chanel by providing a modern vision of the Chanel style. Naturally the luxury Kaiser places himself in a certain classical approach that still unites the past and the present. What Hedi Slimane would bring to Chanel Haute Couture? Well, probably a window to the future. The way he cuts women’s silhouettes, the choice of materials and the way the piece of clothe lays on the body, brings a futuristic timeless elegance that takes you at least 5 to 6 years ahead in the future. When we see the amazing work he has started doing at Yves Saint Laurent, we can sense the potential to bring women fashion to a next level. His understanding of the woman body would create a revamped Chanel woman, still attached to the incomparable sense of sensual elegance but with some spice on top. Sometimes Chanel gets more press for the places and the “mise en scene” rather than what they are really accomplishing as a Fashion house. Please do not take me wrong, Karl Lagerfeld is still pursuing the perpetuation of the Chanel woman. The pitch is the following: The Chanel woman needs to evolve in 2016 as the world changed and people see certain values in a slightly different way. Hedi Slimane represents a intense modernity that Chanel could benefit from.

His salary would be astronomic, only a brand like Chanel would be able to afford him.

We do not that Hedi Slimane is like the fashion Midas. Everything he touches becomes gold. He is capable of reshaping a brand, make it more connected to the air of times and boost the brand aura. Naturally his salary would go in consequence of his talents. With an annual salary of more than €12million, you need to be a brand with a certain scale to be able to count on him among collaborators. With all these financial groups holding the decisions of most of luxury brands, probably only Chanel would put on the table the right amount to get the very best. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys, so if you want to get the God of fashion, how much would you be able to afford? Chanel would do it because they understand what an artist like Slimane would accomplish for the brand. As you have read, Hedi Slimane can only go work for Chanel now. It is inevitable. After his experiences with Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, the choice of Chanel is the obvious one. Let’s see what will be his next move.

José Amorim


Info sourced on the different brands websites, Hedi Slimane website, wikipedia, Forbes, Vogue UK and International New York Times. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available, Images are for illustration purposes only. 

José Amorim

José Amorim has been working in the luxury industry for more than 15 years. In the past 8 years, he joined his personal passion for digital culture and his luxury background to develop digital strategies for premium brands. He is the founder of and is happy to share his passion here.