A SAINT LAURENT LIFE
A look at the journey of Laura Barbat from studying Journalism to working in Yves Saint Laurent alongside the most influential people in fashion.
How did your interest for fashion started?
I always liked it, but for me it was Communication and Journalism, I graduated from university I started working in that field, then I lost my job and I started writing little articles about fashion. I then started working in Barcelona helping a friend of mine to look for women’s clothing brands to bring them to Spain as he had a boutique for men and wanted to open one for women; I got to know the fashion industry and how it worked, so it helped me work for Armani and Yves Saint Laurent.
How did you end up working for such a big brand like Yves Saint Laurent?
They came looking for me through a headhunter, I spoke three languages fluently and I had already worked for an international brand. I started working at the boutique in Madrid with a team of eleven people, when I started in the fashion house, Yves Saint Laurent was still in charge of the brand in the “Maison”; it was a wonderful experience because it was a “Couture Maison”. Since 1993 the brand is owned by multinationals, in 1993 SANOFI bought it and in 1999 PPR, now called KERING, bought the brand.
What is something that you have learned in your career that has stuck with you professionally and personally?
That you can accomplish anything, as long as it is with a lot of stubbornness, effort, hope and honesty, is all about wanting something and working hard for it, in the end everything comes to place!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start in a luxurious or high end fashion house?
It is very difficult to advice someone, specially because a brand is not only about the dresses and the clothes that are seen in the runways and boutiques. The person would have to specify which sector they want to work in and where, like marketing, PR, communication, atelier... and then prepare themselves for it. Everything is very specialised and these sectors never mix between them, but of course one need to know luxury; and that does not mean buying expensive items, because obviously not all young people has access to it, but they do need to know about the history of the brands, designers and specially try to get immersed in magazines and books specialised in the subject and try to get internships in brands like Dior, Chanel, Saint Laurent, Valentino... the training they do with their employees is constant due to this industry changing all the time.
Do you think is harder now to started in the industry than when you started?
Everything is harder now, not only in this industry.
How has your perception of the industry changed as the years go by?
I have changed with the industry myself, my perception went along side with it, everything is an evolution and a necessity of the market. The market drags the industry, that is why the industry changes; for example, we now live in an ecologically conscious world, so the industry is already changing with new fabrics and new ways of doing things, everything changes.
What is the project you have been a part of that you are most proud of?
Putting together all the retail of the boutiques in Spain, Portugal and Italy and transmitting to all the clients and collaborators the spirit and essence of a “Maison” like ours and making them feel like they were a part of it.
Who has been the most inspirational person that you have met in this industry?
Personally for me Yves, he was a man who loved profoundly women and empowered them with his designs, he was a very gentle and humble man, with a great culture and knowledge.
How is it to work for a brands as big as YSL?
Marvellous, and very interesting because you are learning constantly, but it is very stressing, specially now that you work with very high economic goals that you have to achieve.
What did your job entail exactly in the brand?
I did everything related to Retail, from studying what city, what place to open the next boutique, to the research and training of the employees that are going to be working face to face with the public, the sales of the collections, economic management, salaries, benchmarking, and loads of more things...
Do you thing networking is essential to be able to get into this industry?
You need networking for everything, it is important because there are loads of different sector in this field and they are all connected so it is very important to have a net of contacts and the higher in the industry they are the better.
What role does social media have in the fashion industry now a days? How has it changed the business?
They have a huge role, they help brands get to a lot more people and know their potential clients. Social media has striped people completely, their way of thinking and living are much more within the reach of the brands.