Rarely has a fashion week got so much attention as this season’s Paris Fashion Week.
With Raf Simons’ Dior ready-to-wear debut being pitted against the return of Hedi Slimane at Yves Saint Laurent by the media and observers alike, the stage was set for a battle royale but by the time the referee waved for the bout to be over, it was pretty clear who had come out victorious. Simons had the belt metaphorically strapped around his waist (he gets to wear it until February at least) and Slimane was not happy.
But it was hardly a surprising outcome. Simons was showing off the back of a stellar couture collection while Slimane on the other hand was coming in from the wilderness and, through his rebranding and management of the implementation of said branding, was not in a mood to be trifled with. He declared ‘Saint Laurent’ was the brand’s new moniker, as ‘YSL’ took a back seat. But the matter was further confused when he added ‘Paris’ to the logo - any time the name was written ‘incorrectly’ it was followed swiftly by a mildly patronising email request from the press office correcting the offending article. Post-show, having not exactly been overly respectful towards the press, the response (rightly or wrongly) to the collection was rather lukewarm, a judgement about which Slimane was not that impressed, culminating in a elaborately created and ill-advised Twitter rant aimed at New York Times critic Cathy Horyn.
It was all rather unseemly and unhelpful to an industry that from the outside always appears embroiled in bitchiness and cat-fighting, but we must learn from this incident and the lesson is thus: be clear about your branding - if it needs explaining it’s not right - and understand that you can only control how your brand is perceived with what you do at your company. Get what you do inside the ring right and the rest will take care of itself.