“Take Saint Laurent. One of the first things the new designer, Hedi Slimane, did was to remove “Yves” from the label, thereby severing a symbolic connection to the founder, and everything he stood for, like good taste and feminine power. But it was also a test of the label’s enduring appeal.
Who needed the extra syllable when Saint Laurent was virtually lodged in people’s ears, and so much fun to say?
Mr. Slimane has been the talk of Paris Fashion Week, or at least the closing days, largely because he showed a grunge collection of baby-doll dresses and flannel shirts, which I viewed online because I was not invited to the show. Opinion varied widely. Many people said the clothes looked like stuff sold at Topshop or a thrift store, while others defended Mr. Slimane’s approach and identified pieces, like a pink fur chubby, that relate back to Yves’s designs of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when he got ideas — say, for a pea coat — from the street. It’s doubtful that customers will make that connection, but such comments serve to validate what Mr. Slimane has done.
And the controversy is good for Saint Laurent. But mainly it was clear to me how strong the name is. In terms of design, the clothes held considerably less value than a box of Saint Laurent labels. Without the label attached to them, Mr. Slimane’s grunge dresses wouldn’t attract interest — because they’re not special. But a box of labels is worth a million.
Hermès stands in sharp contrast to the Saint Laurent show and its lazy values. “"