WASHINGTON, March 30, 2007 - Over the past two days, the fashion world has been riveted by news of the breakup of star designer, Hedi Slimane, and Dior Homme. The exact details of the split have been confusing, and to some extent, inaccurate.

In the late Spring of 2006, it became clear that contract talks between Slimane and Dior were at an impasse, the sticking point being the launch of a women's line in the designer's name. Weeks before the Dior Homme July 4 show, it was reported that company officials had reached out to Belgian designer and former Slimane understudy, Kris Van Assche, as a possible replacement, should an agreement not be reached. The July show came and went. Slimane's contract was extended while talks continued. According to the account published by Le Figaro, Slimane designed the winter 2008 Dior collection long distance while hold up at his home. The collection was shown last January, and still no contract agreement was announced.

Then on Wednesday of this week,Women's Wear Daily, citing an anonymous source at LVMH, published a report that officials were "fed up" with Slimane's contract demands, and ready to move on. On Thursday, Sydney Toledano, President of Dior Couture, released a terse statement announcing the appointment of Kris Van Assche as Artistic Director of the Dior Homme label, but the press release did not even mention Slimane's name.

Later in the day, Suzy Menkes, writing for the International Herald Tribune, cited an anonymous source close to negotiations, indicated that it was Slimane who broke off talks.

The French press remained largely silent, with only Le Figaro publishing an account biased towards Dior's management.

Late on Thursday, a source close to Hedi Slimane revealed to Fashionlines that after nearly a year of exhausting, and at times contentious talks, Slimane was ready to pursue other endeavors outside the LVMH umbrella, and confirmed that it was the designer who chose to walk away. Slimane was said to be "relieved" that the ordeal was over.

Hedi Slimane is a visionary designer with talents that extend far beyond the fashion world. That was what Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé saw in him over a decade ago when they chose him to head the Rive Gauche line, and that is what keeps icons of 21st century culture among his ardent supporters. Yoko Ono once told me that it was Hedi's sensitivity that captivated her attention, for Elton John it was his passion for detail, and for Karl Lagerfeld, it was and is, his brilliance.

Hedi's departure from Dior Homme puts the company into uncharted water. Though sales of men's wear accounts for only 10% of overall earnings, it remains to be seen what dent in the Dior balance sheet may result.

As for Hedi, most Fashionista will tell you that the story is far from over. New directions bring new opportunities, and as Lagerfeld put it "I'm a designer follower, not a label follower."

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