Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent

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by Leandra Medine
March 4, 2014
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All about the aughts

Last night after Hedi Slimane showed what can arguably be described as part four in an ongoing series titled “Saint Laurent,” the casual reviews that provided post-show chatter as we exited the venue revealed an interesting variety of reactions.

I heard several editors speak in its favor while others continued to lament about missing the late Yves. One woman said, “I don’t know, I’m a 70’s Saint Laurent girl” and all I could think was this: when Yves Saint Laurent was producing his safari jacket and putting women — for the first time ever — in male tuxedos, were spectators thrilled? When the clothes were devastatingly 70s even though Mr. Saint Laurent was designing in the throes of the 70s, did wearers not think, Why can’t he be more forward thinking? Who’s to say that 40 years from now, the next generation of junior critics won’t be watching the storied house and say, “Man, remember when it was all about the aughts?”

I think we’re ready to let him in. The show was unapologetic and artful about its riff on decidedly feminine yet male-derivative floppy bow ties and large hats and the essence of grunge that comes replete with a dose of glamour, manifesting itself in the form of glittering coats and Courrèges-esque go-go boots that run deep through the neo-blood of Saint Laurent.

And I look forward to seeing what happens. There’s an indispensable swagger that embodies the Saint Laurent wearer’s step. You can’t make it up, or pretend it’s not there, and you don’t have to like it, but there is some value in trying to understand that Mr. Slimane is not all that different from Mr. Saint Laurent.

Different decades, yes. Different themes, absolutely. But the personality still evinces one spirit and that is of the iconoclast persuasion.

Of course, during the time of Saint Laurent, to be an iconoclast meant to be different — to wear a tuxedo in lieu of a dress, to revolt. In 2014, the concept of abandoning what is societally normal is much more imbued with actually looking “normal.” (Cue conversation of the most recent annoying millenial hashtag to plague social media: #normcore.)

Currently, we occupy an era of personal style and as a result of the over-yet-underwhelming assortment of diverse fashion, trends in the traditional sense barely exist any longer. So far more interesting and frankly iconoclastic than disparity (if we’re all trying to look offbeat, aren’t we decidedly on beat?) is to slip into a uniform that is equal parts reliable, comfortable and cool. And no one provides that uniform better than Hedi Slimane.

Images via The Cut & Vogue

REPLIES
  • http://www.blog.duprasdesigns.com Alison Du Pras

    Although I do miss Yves, I genuinely like the direction Saint Laurent is going. I agree that being “originally trendy” is much more the norm now than it ever has been, but since few actually do it well, I don’t tire of it.

    Like it Haute
    xx

  • Cherie

    I’m sad his name is gone.

  • Charlotte Fassler

    “The personality still evinces one spirit and that is of the iconoclast persuasion.” I think you hit the nail on the head. Not to get too academic up in here (clearly nostalgic for school), but I am reminded of a Baudelaire essay on Modernity in which he describes how important it is to understand the past in order to give an accurate portrayal of the present. We can/should look to the past for techniques, but not for actual subject matter (i.e. studying Renaissance garments is superfluous to present day fashion).

    Slimane has looked to the past, but has not directly appropriated, rather he has embodied YSL’s modern sensibility. A large part of being modern is being ephemeral and transient, representing a particularly fleeting moment that captures the present. Slimane should not be expected to embody a whole fashion house’s history in a singular collection. The constant metamorphosis and speed of everyday life right now should call for an equal kind of speed and execution from the artist, no?

    To me, his aesthetic portrays a pretty accurate reflection of our time, which is something unique and special.

    I really have to wonder though, if detached from such an established fashion house would critics be more likely to champion his designs? I’m inclined to say yes.

    • pinkschmink

      I think you’re absolutely right, Charlotte. A lot of the people who are up in arms about what Hedi Slimane has done at Saint Laurent forget that once upon a time Yves Saint Laurent himself was the man who walked into an established fashion house (Dior) and shook it up with a haute couture collection that heavily referenced Left Bank beatniks – that was literally unthinkable at the time. He horrified the label’s established clientele and the critics universally panned him. But he was at the forefront of a revolution.

      I think Monsieur Saint Laurent probably would have approved of Slimane’s rebellious spirit, non?

  • Angel

    SAINT LAURENT FOR THE WIN ! their runways are always so classic and modern.
    check out my fashion blog. NEW posts every Sunday , Tuesday , Thursday and Saturdays .http://haute-couture-hippie.blogspot.ca/

  • Blake

    I’m a big fan of Hedi Slimane, and I think he’s changed Saint Laurent for the better. Maybe it isn’t as classic as it used to be, but I think this new ‘punk schoolgirl chic’ kind of look is modern and innovative.

    http://urbanoutfitting.blogspot.com/

  • kirbybee

    Abso-freakin-lutely! There seems this romanticism attached to the work of Yves and of the YSL of old that some people appear unwillingly to disentangle themselves from. Do they expect Slimane to do a cut and paste of 70s YSL? To dust off the archives and send it down the runway to appease some misplaced nostalgia? To do so not only makes light of the work of Yves, but also belittles Slimane’s talent. And eschews the fact that fashion is constantly evolving and changing and shifting. You don’t have to like it, that’s the freedom you have, but you do have to respect the right of the house of Saint Laurent to evolve and shift and change as they – and Slimane – see fit.

    • Leandra Medine

      ive missed you, kirbybee

  • Romeo

    http://www.savethemales.ca/001904.html

    Feminism is an excellent example of how the Rockefeller mega cartel uses the awesome power of the mass media (i.e. propaganda.) to control society.

    In 40 short years, many women have lost touch with their natural loving instincts. Consequently, the family is in disarray, sexual depravity is rampant and birth rates have plummeted.

    I will expand on the Rockefeller’s role, but first we need to remember that for a woman, love is an instinctive act of self-sacrifice.

    She gives herself to her husband and children and is fulfilled by seeing them thrive and receiving their love, respect and gratitude.

    A woman makes this supreme sacrifice to only one man who will cherish her and provide for his family. Men instinctively want to fulfill this responsibility. This is the essence of the heterosexual contract (i.e. marriage): female power in exchange for male power expressed as love. Sex is the symbol of this exclusive bond. Marriage and family may not be for everyone but it is the natural path for most.

    Feminism has trained women to reject this model as “an old fashioned, oppressive stereotype” even though it reflects their natural instincts.

    On Thursday a British writer reported overhearing two young women:

    “All men are useless these days,” one said. “Yeah,” said the other. “The trouble is that they haven’t risen to the challenge of feminism. They don’t understand that we need them to be more masculine, and instead they have just copped out.”

    That’s their logic? If women are less feminine, men will be more masculine? Men aren’t designed to fight with women. They need to be affirmed by a woman’s acquiescence and faith. When women constantly challenge them, men will “cop out” of marriage and family.

    Now that love and marriage have been “discredited,” women have nothing left to exchange for love but sex. Thus, many are unnaturally obsessed with appearance and pathetically give their bodies to all and sundry.

    Permanent love is not based on a woman’s sex appeal, or personality or achievements. Ultimately, it is based on self-sacrifice. We love the people who love us.

    – See more at: http://www.savethemales.ca/001904.html#sthash.52Km7QWC.dpuf

    • http://alcessa.wordpress.com/ alcessa

      bullsh

  • Romeo

    The Illuminati undermined women’s natural loving instincts using the following mantras:

    1. Men can no longer be trusted. Using the Lifetime Network as an example, Blyth concluded “all men are 1) unfaithful rats 2) abusive monsters 3) dishonest scumbags, or 4) all of the above. Women on the other hand were…flinty achievers who triumph despite the cavemen who…want to keep them in their place.” (62-63)

    2. Women are victims by virtue of their sex. Blyth says the media sends “one message loud and clear. Because we are women, we remain victims in our private lives, at work, in society as a whole.” (156) Thus women must have a sense of grievance, entitlement and rebellion. The same tactic was used to manipulate Jews, Blacks, workers and gays. (See my “Victim as Moral Zombie” )

    3. Women should be selfish. “Liberation and narcissism have merged,” Blyth says. Leisure now means, “time for yourself, spent alone, or perhaps with one’s girlfriends but definitely without spouse and kids…Endless articles preached the new feminist gospel, that indulging yourself is an important part of being a healthy, well adjusted woman.” (65)

    4. Sex is not reserved for love and marriage. Magazines like Glamour and Cosmopolitan urge young women to “put out on their first date,”ogle men openly” and be an athlete in bed. There is no discussion of marriage or family. (160) Such women can’t trust a man enough to surrender themselves in love.

    5. Self-fulfillment lies in career success and not husband and family. “The social rewards of holding down a job are critical to one’s sense of dignity and self worth,” Betty Friedan pontificated. In fact, “most work is deeply ordinary,” Blyth observes (35-36.) (I’m not saying women can’t have jobs, only they shouldn’t be tricked out of having families if they want them.)

    Thus many women are schizophrenic as they attempt to reconcile their natural instincts with constant exhortations to do the opposite. The wreckage — broken families and dysfunctional people — is strewn everywhere.

    At the same time, Playboy Magazine etc. aimed a similar message at men. You don’t need to get married to have sex. Marriage and children are a bore.

    – See more at: http://www.savethemales.ca/001904.html#sthash.52Km7QWC.dpuf

  • flavia

    The thing is, the collection is great, tons of people (girls) would wear it but IT’S NOT YSL. If this were Hedi’s line then it would be great, but it’s not. It’s Yves Saint Laurent. Wang is doing a different Balenciaga than Ghesquière, but he’s doing it! He has Alexander Wang to do his own thing. Hedi is no good for this job, he’s a great designer but not good for YSL.

    • diane

      You are correct in saying it is not YSL: That’s why the line is now called Saint Laurent, which at first I thought pretentious but now see as Slimane drawing a line in the sand to establish where one ended and the other began. But really who cares when the clothes AND THE BOOTS are so amazing? Fur withstanding, I would buy and incessantly wear almost every item in this collection (in a perfect world where price was no object).

  • Romeo
  • Romeo
    • Leandra Medine

      Wuht.

  • http://morethanglasses.co.uk More than Labels

    I liked the collection. I agree offbeat is actually on beat now, especially in cities like NY, London or Paris where people’s lives revolve this much around fashion. However, I have to confess I still love it, I found Hedi Slimane’s collection of very good taste and very appealing aesthetically speaking, with the prints mix, and material used and shapes. Really liked it, and can see where he was going with it.

    Thanks for sharing, Leandra.:)
    xx
    morethanlabels.co.uk

  • Laura

    Dying over this collection. Perfect combo of grunge, glitz and prints.

  • Catarina

    Somebody hold my wallet.

  • boticapop

    The thing is that you are looking forward but Mr Slimane is not. Let’s step aside the issue about “Yves” or no “Yves”, I think Mr Slimane is always looking at the rear-view mirror.

    • Leandra Medine

      The label’s initial name was Saint Laurent. Yves was added later

  • kay

    BLAIR WALDORF

  • http://rightternes.com/ RightTernes

    A big part of me would have loved to see a couple of men walking in this show. I feel as though the girl walking this Saint Laurent show is a reincarnation of Mick Jagger. Or maybe Mick himself could walk in the next collection? A girl can dream.

  • Amy

    Well written and I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts and feedback.

  • http://www.aweebitskint.com/ misshoax

    i don’t think anyone is expecting slimane to reinvent the wheel – the thing that irks me, and what possibly irks others, is that it’s just been done.

    and yes, most things have been ‘done’ – but the sort of ‘copy & paste’/derivative collections he has been showing have just shown no initiative, no joy – it’s like he’s lost his spark. the clothes are totally wearable, but not at all ‘special’.

    (http://aweebitskint.com)

    • Leandra Medine

      i don’t disagree but just to play devil’s advocate, is it possible that the purported unspecial-ness is completely deliberate and perhaps a social comment on the way of our gen./how we dress/interact/yaddiyoo?

      • http://www.aweebitskint.com/ misshoax

        100% – he very well could be making that stand. but, a question remains – why? it’s seems a waste of talent, a waste of money, and a waste of a name. it also feels rather petulant. if slimane feels like making a comment on how ‘we dress’ – doing the reverse, shock/awe/avant-garde – would be a more powerful statement.

        also, if that’s the case, it feels rather condescending. buy my $68K dress, but i’ll smirk about it later… that joke just isn’t funny.

  • Alice

    I wish this were just Saint Laurent and Yves Saint Laurent would still exist. I love this line, it’s young, it’s very (VERY) cool but to give up on the chic legacy that is Yves Saint Laurent makes me nostalgic and a bit sad. I guess change is a good thing but you can’t expect people to accept it in just a few seasons.

  • http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com/ Newborn Fanatic

    Seriously starting to idolize Saint Laurent’s runway shows. So much attitude!

    http://newbornfanatic.wordpress.com