Here are some facts about why the fashion industry is having a minor titty attack about the new Saint Laurent collection:
+He showed part one of the collection in Los Angeles, which is where he keeps the design studio of Saint Laurent despite the fact that the late Yves Saint Laurent was a French designer — perhaps the most French designer. France is not similar to L.A. at first glance, but I am sure if we think on it, we can draw the parallels.
+His initial viewing was to the chagrin of many editors: it occurred the night before the start of New York Fashion Week and thus meant that Slimane was aware many fashion “insiders” would not be able to attend, but he did not really care.
+His not caring sealed a nail in the coffin of purpose. Before it would even start, the omnipresent question marks shaped like huge-ass elephants started to sprout. If we’re not needed at a show, why do we make ourselves feel so indispensable?
+Because it was only part one meant there would be a part two, which would include the insiders who were previously left to pick up the pieces of their egos. This started to unscrew the aforementioned coffin nail. The nail unscrewed even more when the rumors began to swarm about how small this show would be: 150 people maximum, in a small but intricate place: the new couture atelier of Saint Laurent in Saint-Germain-des-Prés (the left bank, historically and popularly referred to as the more artsy bank, which varies tremendously from the right bank, where most of the events of fashion week take place).
And when the show was finally set to take place? It was brightly lit, editors’ names were engraved on the seats where they would sit, and — no surprise here — it looked a lot like the ateliers of yore where collections used to be shown. There was a carpeted staircase, models cascading with their numbers being announced and all. Cause of setting, specifically when Slimane is almost known for the huge dark spaces he is wont to set up, which truly make the energy? He wouldn’t be showing part two of a ready-to-wear collection.
He’d be showing couture! Made to order clothing in the midst of a pret-a-porter season in the heart of fashion week (do note the closing red rabbit coat for the pun indicated here)! All the editors would feel like it was 1958 again and Gabrielle Chanel wasn’t far away. Surely, this nostalgia would open the coffin that was being sealed completely and resurrect Purpose once and for all.
There was a lot of talk before the show of Hedi Slimane leaving Saint Laurent. Maybe he’d go to Chanel, where Karl Lagerfeld currently reigns supreme, and I do mean supreme. Maybe he wouldn’t. But no one seemed especially stunned by his leaving. The critics have never been over the moon for his interpretation on the House that Yves Built. But last night, he got a resounding round of applause. A sort of standing ovation as designated by a series of glowing reviews and gasps of relief. And per that gasp of relief — where’s that coming from? A genuinely strong collection that is infusing new life into the house when we’ve been quickly trained to assume Slimane is out? (For what it’s worth, I’ve been a fan since the beginning, and found this collection especially invigorating in its less cynical-than-usual take on the 80s. However, it was hard not to be distracted by the extreme body type of this season’s models and the lack of diversity in 2016. What message does this send about his idea of modern couture?)
Or are The Elders simply reacting to how they feel after having spent a night back in time, before the Internet, before the cell phones, when we still used pencils to take notes and place orders and fashion was still a pipe dream ripe to explode and dependent on the people who would catch up the pieces?
Photographs via Vogue Runway; carousel photograph courtesy of Saint Laurent.