Hedi Slimane presents his debut Saint Laurent collection at Paris Fashion Week
It was the most anticipated and speculated-upon show since Raf Simons’ debut at that other venerable house of Dior; this season, all eyes in the fashion world were upon Hedi Slimane for his first collection at the rebranded Saint Laurent.
Saint Laurent Paris, formerly known as Yves Saint Laurent, is 100% the product of the creative vision of Slimane. It was under his creative direction that we saw the controversial renaming of the label, considered by many to be sacrilege, and witnessed the re-birth of a French couture house.
Given such radical beginnings to his takeover of the YSL house, it is fair to say that expectations for Hedi Slimane’s first collection were set astronomically high and the hype was furthered by the slow pre-PFW release of campaign imagery (and an “approved” self-portrait) that was not giving much away. Upon baited-breath we awaited a creative vision that would blow our minds and reset our conceptions of Saint Laurent. The show’s guest list played testimony to the fervour, drawing Salma Hayek, Kate Moss, Marc Jacobs, Betty Catroux, Alber Elbaz, Vivienne Westwood, Liza Thorn, Diane von Furstenburg, Pixie Geldof, and the partner (in life and business) to the late great Yves himself: Pierre Berge.
The show did play tribute, but not in the way perhaps many were expecting; but if one thing can be said, at least Mr Slimane is consistent. The SS13 collection was, well, very “Hedi”. For the designer’s first foray into womenswear, the mark of his past menswear collections was very visible.
In a highly wearable collection that will no doubt be a commercial success, Slimane presented his vision in poet blouses, thin-as-whippet cigarette pants, bows and floppy brimmed hats, flowing cape coats and a typical whiff of androgyny in the tailoring. Heavily reliant upon his signature monochrome palette, feathers, sequins, ruffles and chiffon lent to a bohemian spirit, one that payed homage to 70s era labels of which Diane von Furstenberg said post show: ”pure Saint Laurent and [in it] I recognised my youth”. The final 12 looks of bejewelled tone maxi dresses were quite beautiful.
Slimane’s Saint Laurent woman is one who is liberated, free spirited and confident, a woman of her own devices; perfectly fitting as this is always the essence of the woman that Yves Saint Laurent himself designed for. The new Saint Laurent will be satisfying for the designer’s legion of ardent fans and even for Yves Saint Laurent purists, but for many who expected more, may leave a sense of yearning. This will be especially the case for those lovers of his predecessor’s “must-have” cult accessories: YSL shoes and bags which were the driving force behind the label’s revival in recent years. These were the things notably lacking from this collection, but then perhaps this was Slimane’s way of distancing his “new look” from that of Yves Saint Laurent under Stefano Pilati.
Ian Michael Turner