Two of the most famous French fashion brands have changed their names, the former deleted “Yves,”  and the latter deleted “Martin.” Yves and Martin are the two designers who created their self-titled brands (in 1961 and in 1988, respectively): Yves Saint Laurent and Maison Martin Margiela.

In 2002, Yves Saint Laurent closed his Haute Couture section and in 2004, Stefano Pilati began managing the ready-to-wear collection. In 2008, Saint Laurent died in Paris, and four years later Tom Ford replaced Pilati. The real change was in 2012, when Hedi Slimane took Ford’s place and started radical transformations, often criticized: Slimane changed the name of the brand (only accessories and make-up are named after Yves Saint Laurent now and they are managed by L’Oréal Paris); moved the ready-to-wear design studio to LA; and deleted all orders coming from Colette, the famous french boutique that dealt in YSL products, and was responsible for the creation of a t-shirt which read, “Ain’t Laurent without Yves.

Aint-Laurent-Without-Yves-t-shirtPhoto Credit: Sylvia etc

Maison Martin Margiela was founded by Martin Margiela in 1988. The stylist was well-known for his avant-garde looks and quirky personality: he didn’t interview, he didn’t appear in any photos, nor at the end of his fashion shows, and he communicated with the media through fax. “MMM” was bought by the Italian group OTB in 2002. The CEO of the group is Renzo Rosso, the founder of the brand Diesel. Margiela and Rosso entered into conflict when the Italian revealed to the Belgian his intention to change Maison into an international brand. Margiela felt the integrity of his brand was falling, and in 2009 he resigned as creative director, leaving to his team the duty of designing the new collections. In 2015, it was announced that the brand of the new collections will be Maison Margiela. The new creative director is John Galliano.

The Famous Masks by Margiela.

Behind the scenes of the chaotic fashion world, rumors say that Slimane, obsessed with keeping the YSL brand under his control, thinks he is solely responsible for interpreting the founder’s vision. Yves was the first to propose the ready-to wear collection, known for its commercial standard sizes. Hedi’s interpretation is said to be much too focused on money and marketing instead of creativity and exclusivity.

 The story of Martin Margiela is a sad one, as he was basically forced into resigning because of his conflict with Russo about money and power.

Martin Margiela has always been known for being level-headed, and more interested in the clothes than himself. His replacement, John Galliano, is one of the most expert fashion designers working today, and maybe he will follow the brave path of Maison Margiela by experimenting with new forms.


Hedi Slimane, John Galliano

In the end, this is the fashion world. It’s cruel and sometimes violent, where one could “kill” in order to get their place in the sun, as Miranda Priestley says. Apparently, you can decide to change a brand simply because you want it to be new. Or sometimes, as the press harshly declares, “one closes with the past and looks forward to the future”.


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