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On Friday, Kering announced that Saint Laurent creative director Hedi Slimane will leave the label, ending months of rumors about a possible departure. At the brand formerly known as YSL, Slimane's designs were critically divisive from the get-go. His debut collection for spring 2013, filled with witchy dresses and floppy hats, had a contemporary Los Angeles vibe. It was a "bizarre way to stake a claim to one of fashion's most unimpeachable legacies," Tim Blanks noted in his review for Style.com at the time.
But Slimane charged forward, turning out grunge-inspired babydoll dresses and flannels for fall 2013, '80s sparkle and strong-shouldered suits in spring 2014, and mod '60s micro-dresses with tweed coats and capes for fall 2014. The following spring brought a '70s mood and a jumble of colors and prints — snakeskin against stars and a green leather jacket paired with a leopard blouse, red hat, and gunmetal sequined skirt. Things got aggressive in fall 2015, with red-lipsticked models stomping the runway in torn stockings and one-shouldered minidresses with slits cut nearly to the hip bone. One dress left an entire boob exposed. Slimane did even more work #freeingthenipple with Saint Laurent's spring 2016 show, when his crew of young women channeled Glastonbury in sheer little dresses, army jackets, rubber rainboots, and — crucially — sparkling tiaras.
Not that it really mattered what the critics were saying. Under Slimane's direction, Saint Laurent proved itself to be a huge commercial success. The brand's revenue grew by 27% in 2014 and nearly 38% in 2015, well outpacing Kering's other luxury brands.
Slimane's final collection, fall 2016, remained gaudy, but was more painstakingly architectural and formal than his past offerings. Massive, colorful furs and glittering dresses with mile-high shoulders. It was a sweet goodbye present, not just for Kering's bottom line, but for the peanut gallery, too.