"I went back to design for Pierre [Berge] and Yves only. I owe him and Yves everything, this is why I tried my best the last four years to protect and consolidate the foundations of their house, no matter what it meant for me, or my life," he said. "It was somehow a question of honour, duty and unconditional love.
Having worked at the French fashion house in the Nineties - when Berge enlisted him to work on the menswear collections - Slimane was lucky enough to have spent time in the presence of the house's eponymous founder, an experience that he drew on during numerous moments in his career.
"I would never forget Pierre asking me to take pictures in the backstage of the final Yves Saint Laurent couture show, I have this moving archive of that historical show, Yves overwhelmed, Loulou de la Falaise next to him, looking for the last time at all he had created," he recalled in the rare interview with Yahoo! style. "The most meaningful was certainly the first Dior Homme show, with Yves and Pierre in the audience. Pierre had called me the day before to let me know Yves wanted to come. The day of the show it was the only thing I could think about and that mattered to me."
Poignantly, Slimane is now resurrecting the couture label of the house - set to be known as Yves Saint Laurent - an announcement that was received far better than when he was first appointed as creative director and set about initiating change - famously dropping the "Yves".
"I completely understand the reactions. There was a particular context, like someone switching off the music at a birthday party, but I knew my project would be sensitive" he said. "I was in a peaceful place, and this new design project meant I certainly would have to expose myself more than I would normally want to. I was thrilled to go back to fashion, let alone to a house that felt like family. Some of the reactions were probably in response to me appearing remote or "not accessible" and I completely understand Hedi Slimane.
"However, really early on, my project was surrounded by heavy politics and conflicts of interests. It all started before my first show, out of endless speculations. The tone was set no matter what I would design the first season," he continued, adding that he understands the reason for the hype at the time.
"Some of the reactions were probably in response to me appearing remote or "not accessible" and I completely understand. However, I wouldn't pretend to be someone I am not. I trust all designers are different. It is just about being sincere. Remote and in a quiet environment is closer to my nature."
The critique he received - which also centered on his decision to remain in LA as opposed to relocate to Paris, which he said gives him the creative distance he needs - only drove him on, pushing him to bring to fruition his vision for creating a clear definition between ready-to-wear and couture as Saint Laurent himself had started out doing.
"If there is no reaction, it means nobody cares. If nobody cares, then we have a problem," he said. "Fashion without controversy probably feels like nonsense. Not that controversy is provocation. I have never been interested by provocation, only the nature of what I do seems sometimes to bring controversy. However, you need a discussion, a debate of ideas, it is healthy. Change is the essence of fashion."