Exploring brand, story and legacywhat is the story and who cares about it?

Who cares?

I do!

And millions of others.

And most of the designers of significance: http://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/au-revoir-yves-1560220/

Decades ago, working in my Mother’s painting studio, drawing, I remember the images of a lithe, bright and quietly reticent young man that emerged in the pages of Life Magazine — a man grasping the helm of the fashion house, then forming his own line. Those images, in 1963, when I was ten years old, brought me into a consciousness about the very nature of design — and clothing — in a manner that forever would be an object of spellbinding fascination.

It would be decades later that a chance meeting with Claudia Cividino, Director of North American Retail Design, and later her CEO, Laura Lendrum, that would further catalyze the connection, of exploring brand in story, and branded interpretations in retail, to comprehend the never ending power of Monsieur Saint Laurent, to captivate clients, literally, for decades.

Our learnings, in exploring the clientele of YSL, long after his retirement — and the deviations in design promulgated by Tom Ford, and later Stefano Pilati — was that it was the soul of Saint Laurent, the very character of the man, the genius, that continued to empower the spirit of the brand.

And so while we’d need to consider in framing the story, the evolutionary power of Pilati, energized by the earlier efforts of Tom Ford, there needed to be some sense of the spirit of that man — in everything that we did and ultimately explored. We took what we learned and created a grouping of books that opened up the color — and the warmth — of the soulful elegance of Yves Saint Laurent; we recommended the recapturing of that spirit in curve, in light, in refreshed colorations — and holding close the sophisticated visioning of the Parisien, to shift the visioning of the story, the store.

All that went to Paris, to be tested in more leadership charrettes with Valerie Hermann — which really, to the reviews that I’d experienced, supported much of the character of our recommendations and learnings.

But the important thing is the story and the person — the beautiful rendering of brand in human framing; it’s surely one of the great learnings of my career: the power of the personal in defining the genetics of branding (see St. Sulpice –> https://www.girvin.com/blog/yves-saint-laurent-st-sulpice-paris/). It’s never merely about the operational strategy, nor the engineering of enterprise; it’s about the person, the story, the fire that ignites and enflames the passion of the brand that is the most captivating to people.

They embrace that spirit — the vitality of the human visioning, as a way to enlighten their relationships to the propositions of value. Our interviews with clients suggested that while there was an emerging love of the brand textures and renewed sexuality of Tom Ford, or the new indices of interpretation of Stefano Pilati, there was real magnetism to the spirit of Yves Saint Laurent. Even young women, or the newly impassioned markets of men, found that they were connected to Monsieur YSL.

And that while brand stories might be forever shifting, tuning, evolving — still, the heart of the storytelling and the empowerment of the beginnings is all important. And forever remembered. This treatment that we’d created for our evolutions on Cassandre’s mark: YSL, a kind of warming, smokier, sexually luxuriant monogram that is, for me, a kind of fitting gesture to him, in the mind and fist of my creativity. The spirit, forever empowered, struck in the minds of us all — now, evanescent, the spirit moves…

Goodbye Yves Saint Laurent. You’ve surely changed my life forever…

More is found here, in earlier recounting and exploration:

Diary entry: I begin working with YSL

Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent:

The mythic return, branding in fashion design:


Frida Giannini and retail visualizations:


Yves Saint Laurent | St. Sulpice, Paris

Luxury & Value

Claude Chirac, PPR & Strategic Intention

Yves Saint Laurent, the personal, the person

Tom Ford, the new luxury and Moscow

Hand made luxury — Tom Ford’s legacy

Robert Polet, Gucci Group

tsg | seattle