Hedi Slimane has left his helm as creative director of Saint Laurent Paris, the legendary French fashion house he completely overhauled, after four years. Kering, the conglomerate that owns the label, confirmed the news by press release early this morning. Kering did not name a successor, although it's widely speculated that Slimane will be replaced by Anthony Vaccarello, the Belgian designer well-known for his work with Versace's Versus sub-label.
Slimane's departure had been rumored for months and brings an end to what Kering referred to in the statement as a "four-year mission, which has led to the complete repositioning of the brand." Slimane's vision for the brand is the reason we call it Saint Laurent today; in addition to totally overhauling everything from the label's retail environments to its ad campaigns, Slimane ushered in the shift away from the "Yves Saint Laurent" or "YSL" moniker. His men's and women's designs honed in on a distinct, West Coast rock aesthetic, a consistently slimmed-down, grunged-up look that reflected both the music scene of his adopted hometown of Los Angeles and his signature style since his headline-making days at Dior Homme.
Although Slimane is 47 years-old, he carried his reputation as the enfant terrible of fashion with him throughout his time at Saint Laurent, thanks in part to his famously prickly relationship with the press. He notably feuded with former New York Times critic Cathy Horyn, who found herself on the receiving end of a bitter open letter shared on Twitter. Slimane has also been the target of public criticism by everyone from A.P.C. founder Jean Touitou to Kanye West; the designer was the subject of Kanye's wrath in "I Am a God," a response to Slimane's stipulation that the rapper could attend a Saint Laurent show in Paris on the condition he skip every other presentation.
Still, the controversies and the initial backlash against Slimane's rebranding quieted down as his tenure at Saint Laurent grew into an undeniable success. Not only was he an effective publicity machine, updating YSL and bringing in a horde of celebrity fans from Justin Bieber to Harry Styles, Courtney Love to Lady Gaga, but he affected the bottom line: Slimane's Saint Laurent sold very, very well. Even Kanye eventually set aside his beef and copped one of SLP's ubiquitous bombers. This season's Saint Laurent show in Los Angeles, a runway spectacle and concert that drew enough bold-faced names to fill an issue of US Weekly, was a testament to his popularity and, ultimately, a spot-on send-off that encapsulated his point of view at the label—and the impact and influence Slimane enjoys as a designer.
This is actually Slimane's second exit from Saint Laurent. Previously, he had designed for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme, a position he held prior to his stint at Dior Homme. While there is no word yet from Slimane himself about his future plans, there is still an opening at Dior, and time is a flat circle.