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This October, rumors started swirling about Stefano Pilati's imminent departure from Yves Saint Laurent, where the designer has served as creative director since 2005. "Paris has been flooded with rumors that Pilati's position is under threat and that headhunters have been actively interviewing potential replacements," FWD's Godfrey Deeny reported.
The problem? Despite a stronger-than-previous spring 2011 collection, Racked sources say that YSL's sales are on a downward spiral, season after season. "The sales department isn't really allowed to sell accessories without the clothes," says one of our sources, "so lots of stores can't be bothered to buy the line. What's the point when the good shoe-and-bag sell-through can't make up for the ridiculously low apparel sell-through?"
So, no commercial success combined with little critical success? What's stopping YSL's parent company, PPR, from hiring someone new?
First, there's Pilati's new three-year contract—though, it seems that in fashion, contracts are made to be broken. Second, it's been hard to find someone suitable for the job.
One of our well-placed sources say that the last person PPR saw for the position was Raf Simons, right after his "very Saint Laurent" collection for Jil Sander. But while Simons is a critical favorite, his work at Jil has not yet proved to be a huge commercial success—due, in part to Simons' aesthetic alienating many longtime Jil Sander customers and, simultaneously, failing to attract new shoppers. Avid Raf-watchers also say that Simons wouldn't be a good match for YSL because the label needs someone who's "less dry and more glamorous."
A more likely candidate? Haider Ackermann—the designer recently anointed as Karl Lagerfeld's preferred successor at Chanel. Ackermann's collections have long been acclaimed for their modern Parisian glamour and strong oriental influences—"His last colorful collection was extremely Saint Laurent," one of our sources says.
But the real reason we think this Haider Ackermann for Yves Saint Laurent rumor could turn out to be the real deal? Sources on the inside tell us that Yves Saint Laurent's CEO, Valerie Hermann, attended Ackermann's October show at Paris Fashion Week—incognito, sans official ticket request and RSVP.
What was she doing there? Watch this space.
We reached out to YSL representatives for comment on rumors surrounding Pilati's departure but did not receive a reply.
· Rumor mill: Stefano Pilati is out at YSL [Fashionista]
· Designer Stefano Pilati could get ax [NY Post]
· All Haider Ackermann coverage [Racked]