Skinny-jeans guru Hedi Slimane makes YSL keep paying for $8 million photos
Hedi Slimane, the 51-year-old fashion designer and photographer is one of fashion’s biggest and most enigmatic names. Slimane is best known for setting the menswear agenda when he brought back skinny suits and jeans at LVMH’s Dior Homme in the early 2000s, prompting men around the world to retire their flouncy trousers and pay a premium for form-fitting looks.
It would be an understatement to say that Hedi Slimane didn’t leave Saint Laurent on good terms. Four years later, the star designer is still suing to get what he considers he’s owed.
During his four-year tenure at Yves Saint Laurent, he turned the floundering French fashion house into a commercial force. He put in place an ultra-branded, black-and-white aesthetic for marketing campaigns while mining the house’s archives to pull together retro, rocker-chic looks that put a California spin on French luxury. Slimane filled Saint Laurent’s shelves with biker jackets, sleek handbags and easy-selling $450 low-top sneakers.
Fashion Kaiser Karl Lagerfeld, had famously shed 41 kgs to squeeze into Slimane’s skinny jeans. Like the fashion maven, Slimane too is a designer and a photographer.
Hedi Slimane’s influences came from the grungy, androgynous looks from the world of rock, with the skinny jeans initially influenced by British indie bands like Franz Ferdinand and The Libertines.
Peter Doherty, the Libertines bohemian frontman, became a friend and muse of Slimane’s, and had also appeared in his 2006 photo book, London Birth of a Cult.
Two years ago, Slimane succeeded the British designer Phoebe Philo as creative director of its Celine label.
At Celine’s SS’20 show, the designer turned the clock back to the 1970s and early 1980s, and presented faded flared denims, pussy bow silk blouses, blazers and long skirts and boots. He continued the bourgeois vibe of his first fall winter collection at Celine in March, where he introduced the comeback of the culotte -- one of the big high street trends of the year.
A French court awarded Slimane nearly $700,000 in damages after Kering SA’s Yves Saint Laurent continued to use photographs and videos he’d made for past advertising campaigns without his consent. While it’s far less than the almost $6 million Slimane was claiming, the ruling brings his total courtroom winnings against Kering to more than $22 million.
The billing documentation stated that YSL could use the material for two years and that any further usage would need to be negotiated with Slimane, the Paris court of appeals ruled on June 19.
“The fact that Slimane already received a substantial remuneration for his services doesn’t exempt YSL from paying damages for copyright infringement,” the judges said. Slimane had initially been paid almost $8 million euros to shoot the material.
But Slimane’s departure from Saint Laurent in 2016 turned into a messy divorce. Kering and the designer fought over his 10 million-euro ($11.2 million) non-compete clause as well as a 9.3 million-euro payment Slimane said he was owed for his last year of service. In both instances the company was ordered by French judges to pay up.
Friday’s ruling is yet another favourable outcome for Hedi Slimane as part of litigation between him and his former employer, said one of his lawyers, Léon del Forno.
“Beyond his personal case, Mr. Slimane hopes that this decision will be useful to other photographers who work with fashion houses,” said del Forno.
In late 2017, Slimane lost the first round of his intellectual-property lawsuit over the use of his photos and videos in Saint Laurent’s online archive, leading to last week’s appellate ruling.
While the Paris appeals court agreed that there were 103 instances where YSL should have paid Slimane one-year extensions to continue using the ad-campaign material, the judges said he was asking too much.
Slimane said each one-year extension was worth 50,000 euros, the amount he was originally paid to shoot the photos and videos and allow Saint Laurent to use them for two years. Although he was seeking 5.15 million euros, the judges considered 6,000 euros per extension -- or 618,000 euros in total -- would be enough.
Slimane was also awarded 80,000 euros to cover his legal fees.
-- with inputs from Bloomberg