French designer Hedi Slimane, who devoted the last five years to photography, is coming back to fashion as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent.
Slimane, 43, whose razor-thin black suits have changed the way men dress, will replace Stefano Pilati, whose departure was announced last week by YSL's parent group PPR.
Like Us on Facebook
"Slimane will assume total creative responsibility for the brand image and all its collections. In parallel with this new position, he will continue to pursue his career in photography," the PPR statement said.
Slimane was designer at Christian Dior menswear from 2001-7 before abruptly leaving when parent company LVMH did not renew his contract and replaced him with Belgian designer Kris Van Assche.
In recent years Slimane has devoted time to music and photography, publishing a retrospective last year called "Anthology of a Decade".
One of Slimane's first books of photographs "Stage" captured an emerging new rock scene in London and in America, and in 2005 he released "London: The Birth Of A Cult", a book of photos inspired by the London scene and British rocker Pete Doherty.
The appointment heralds a comeback for the designer who used to head YSL's menswear between 1997 and 2000 before it was acquired by PPR.
"Hedi Slimane's exceptional talent and understanding of the spirit of Yves Saint Laurent heralds a promising chapter in the story of the maison," said Paul Deneve, Chief Executive of Yves Saint Laurent. Under Pilati's stewardship and designs, particularly in high-margin leather goods, YSL returned to profitability in 2008 but was hit hard by the downturn of 2009.
The brand's sales rose more than 31 percent last year to 353.7 million euros, helping operating profit swell more than fourfold to 41 million euros. (Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Will Waterman)