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Fashion / Style File

Haute Couture Makes a Comeback

Saint Laurent Gets Back to its Roots

BY // 07.29.15
Saint Laurent Paris and the new "YSL Couture" creative director, Hedi Slimane
Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent Paris and the newly minted “YSL Couture” atelier

For the past 10 or so years, there has been a departure from the traditional Parisian practice of creating elaborate, made-to-measure, hand-stitched gowns. Many of the houses that had functioned in a traditional manner saw this as a bold move toward modernization and an expansion of their brands. YSL left the practice behind in 2002, when its namesake designer retired. But that trend has reversed itself as of late. Indeed, even subversive designers such as Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy returned to their highbrow roots via “high fashion,” aka haute couture.

But, of course, the name of the game is creating your own code, and Hedi Slimane has done just that at iconic fashion house Saint Laurent Paris since taking over in 2012. First, Slimane changed the famous name by dropping the “Yves” altogether; then, in another rogue measure, he relocated the house’s U.S. headquarters from New York to Los Angeles. But his most recent move, confirmed yesterday, points the house back to its roots (in a way) with an atelier line, which he has designed to be even more exclusive than couture, if that’s possible. How? The only customers it will service will be selected by Slimane himself.

The new atelier will produce pieces for both men and women and will be housed in a 17th-century townhouse called the Hôtel de Sénecterre on the Left Bank in Paris. It remains to be seen who will have the privilege of the invitation to pay what historically has been upwards of $350,000 for a custom-commissioned piece. However, if his hand-chosen few are anything like the spokesmodels he has in the past anointed to wear the brand, they will likely be celebrities and musicians who ironically — as we all know — rarely need be burdened with such trivial matters as actually paying for things themselves.

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