Saint Laurent Los Angeles
DownloadFrom: Godfrey Deeny
Now that’s what we call brand coherence. Hedi Slimane debuted his first menswear collection for Saint Laurent Paris and his gender bender take on rockin’ androgynous panache was fully in line with the Viper club chic of his women’s line seen in October.
Staged in exactly the same space as the women’s collection – the upper reaches of the Grand Palais – in a similarly darkened atmosphere before an audience which sat on identical rough plywood benches, the collection was a dandy student grunge progression from Slimane’s first outing in the fall. And, quite frankly, it clearly shocked a lot of the French audience, who visibly wrinkled their noses at the designer’s fairly brutal determination to re-write the rules at YSL.
Where were the bright color mixes, the arrogant insouciance, the hauteur of Mr. Saint Laurent, they seemed to ask. For Slimane is visibly repositioning Saint Laurent, taking into a far more youthful and edgy terrain – wiping a generation of its likely customer base, and, let’s be honest, probably turning the house into something it rarely had been before – a commercial success. That was clear from the contrasting mood in the packed section of buyers. They positively glowed. It’s Slimane’s second youthquake. According to Pierre Berge – who sat front row with Valerie Trierweiler – the house lost money for the first 17 years of its existence.
You could see why. As one hip French lady near us commented: “C’est archi vendable!”
For fall Hedi wants guys in skinny jeans, multiply slashed with their holes trimmed with micro silver chains. Their feet will be in suede mechanic-cowboy combo boots; the neck festooned with bold woolen knitted college scarves. Around their torsos, grunge plaid shirts and some devilishly well cut worn leather clubbing jackets. Slimane has done an excellent job with his knitwear, a category rarely seen on a Saint Laurent runway before, and he showed beefy cardigans over skinny pants.
The designer has moved some distance from his dandy sartorial final days at his previous job at Dior Homme, but he still has plenty of tailoring chops – like lean double-breasted tuxedo redingote cut with a magically surgical hand.
He showed guys and girls – often in highly similar outfits, taking the notion of a boyfriend’s jackets somewhere new. He has a clear understanding of current youth’s obsession with gender bending ideas. Young men feel comfortable showing a feminie side and vice versa. Typical Slimane, a powerful connection to the Zeitgeist.
Following the faultless presentation, things got messy post show; a silly scramble to create a nylon rope barrier, dimly aggressive security and PR staff who shouted, “You must not ask Hedi any questions!”
The designer by contrast was his usual shy self, looking barely a day older than our last back stage meeting – can you believe it, six years ago. Though with a newly unexpected haircut, a twisted, shorn thick curls, he is still in the skinny jeans but now with a biker jacket versus a micro blazer.
May we presumptuous and say that his message was so strong it maybe didn’t need any more commentary.