August 4, 2015

Thirteen years after Yves Saint Laurent’s last showing of couture pieces (2002) preceding his retirement, the House is picking up its repertoire in haute couture again. In the Rue De L’Université Couture campaign released last week, we had a glimpse into the new Couture House where highly exclusive pieces will be made – particularly only for “friends of Saint Laurent”. It’s been a project since around the time Hedi Slimane took over the fashion house three years ago.

In the campaign, models and dancers look elusively timeless in the grandeur of the refurbished Hôtel de Sénecterre, built in 1685 by the building planner of Louis XIV, and which sits on 24 Rue de l’Université just about a mile and a half away from Yve Saint Laurent’s last couture house. The classic French architecture is complemented by a geometric garden that was replanted from 18th century archives, restoring it to its original plan with the help of a historian. Under the creative eye of Slimane, the 17th century mansion was restored and fitted to offer a certain deviant classicism, with 18th century French furniture under the same roof as modernist artwork and Art Deco. If you walk up the monumental staircase built under Louis XV, you’ll see the minimalist black and white diptych on the wall, commissioned by artist Garth Weiser – a perfect example of how contemporary meets classic in this home to rich heritage. Other pieces include an Age of Enlightenment chandelier and furniture designed by Slimane’s favourite modernist designer of the 1930s, Elizabeth Eyre de Lanux and 18th century chairs that last belonged to the Duke of Penthièvre, some taken from the fashion house’s private collections and some from Slimane’s own.

It’s the new home to the Salon Couture for clients to try pieces and two ateliers on the upper floors – the Atelier Flou and Atelier Tailleur for dressmaking and tailoring respectively. Here, hand-made pieces commissioned for movie stars and musicians are made and Slimane personally decides which couture pieces will carry a hand-sewn ivory silk satin “Yves Saint Laurent” label. Each of these pieces is strictly recorded in a gold monogram book. What does this mean? It means he’s taking the Yves Saint Laurent label to a new level of exclusivity. With no visible plans to show in Paris, he seems to be producing strictly for the label. While it’s a little disappointing as we won’t be able to see the whole array in one convenient fashion show, we’re not surprised at the mysteriousness that results, because, well, that’s Yves and Slimane for you, and it keeps us hooked.

It’s been some time coming since 2012 when the whole “Ain’t Laurent without Yves” debate exploded, but now the fashion world has new reason to scrutinise Slimane who’s often compared to Karl Lagerfeld. However if his previous ready-to-wear collections for Saint Laurent is a good indication of how he will refresh the House’s style, then we’re on our toes to see how he plays his hand at couture.