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What’s in a name?

The news that Hedi Slimane is to rename the French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent as Saint Laurent Paris for spring 13 has been met with some understandable consternation by the fashion industry.

Such was the furore when the news emerged, that both Hedi Slimane and Saint Laurent Paris have been trending on Twitter at some stage in the last 24 hours (see Drapers story in Tweets for more reaction).

While Slimane has not commented on the news, it was revealed that he plans to keep the original iconic YSL logo. So while the name will change, the original initials will remain. Confused? I know I certainly am.

If history has taught as anything – think in pop music terms and the name change debacle which saw Prince reduce his name to something resembling a squiggle at one point – it is often best not to mess with a well-established name.

This is hardly a case of Opal Fruits changing their name to Starburst or Jif becoming Cif. Yves Saint Laurent is a celebrated fashion designer and his name is synonymous with the reputation and quality that people have come to expect from the fashion house.

I can’t help but feel this represents a move by Slimane to assert his authority in his new role but surely, as creative director, he has the opportunity to do this through his debut collection rather than by messing with 76 years of history?

What will happen if he leaves the label after a few seasons? Will the name then be changed back?

As one industry commentator told Drapers, this is probably one of the best known names in the fashion world and it is about to disappear.

“I was always told by Yves Saint Laurent that the brand must be bigger than the designer, he said.

“Yves must be turning in his grave.”

Well quite.

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