...or should I say Saint Slimane?!
I've been admiring Hedi Slimane's work, specially as a photographer. The guy is a mastermind and his aesthetic is really sleek. When he was chosen to be Yves Saint Laurent's creative director I was caught by surprise and I didn't expect anything to be honest, but I understood that they were looking for something different. They were willing to take a risk.
One of the 1st things Hedi did when he took over was to change the name of the french fashion house. Yves was no longer part of it, it was now Saint Laurent Paris. (Controversial and philosophical arguments arose from everywhere.) I wasn't so sure about that decision. However, I thought to myself that change is good and he probably knows what he's doing.
I like evolution and in my opinion YSL was a little bit stiff and there was no innovation at all. Everything was so classically dated. I'm not saying that YSL collections were bad, because they certainly weren't... but in terms of pushing the envelope things weren't going so well. The french house was getting too old-fashioned. Young blood was needed urgently and I think that Slimane came in the right time.
The buzz surrounding his first collections for Saint Laurent was huge and a couple of image teasers kept showing up before the fashion show itself. It was clear that the rockish black and white vibe was an indication of a drastic change of direction. When the collections were revealed it was a shocker. Wearable clothes, some not as innovative as they were expected, things really clean and simple. Not so many risks were taken in terms of design, but one this is sure: Saint Laurent Paris had now a massive young appeal.
With internet and mass information, a lot of young people are even more interested in fashion. Bloggers, fashionistas, opinion makers, people inside the industry and so on. Hence, fashion is facing a new phase. A phase of democratization, of exposure. Fast fashion is dominating and 'copying' a lot of high fashion designs. Everything became way more competitive. And the costumer is now wider and more demanding. Not only the rich old people have access to these luxury goods, there's also a young generation boiling and desiring some Givenchy tee, Versace jacket or Prada shoes. They even save money in a piggybank aiming to invest on something high fashion. H&M collaborations have been crazy and I guess Slimane had all those elements in mind.
Of course he did Zara-ish designs and the creations weren't really over the top, but they were relatable. He's changing the french fashion house's ethos, with an indie, alternative, rockish vibe. Overall, it was cool. I liked it. It's kind of a music-festival-meets-underground-urban-life. Slimane is insanely influenced by music and that is shown in this predictable campaign filled with rockstars (some of my favorite rebellious), such as Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson. Ariel Pink and Kim Gordon (from Sonic Youth) are present as well as you can see in the images above.
I'm a total hipster-hater but I'm lovinggggg this. The Parisian elegance and style is mixed with 90's American grunge is a sublime way, I do not see this direction as a disrespect with YSL's tradition, this is not a dishonor, it's an evolution a revolution in the maison. If I had to define a new motto for Saint Laurent, it would be: laid-back luxury. Furthermore, we just CAN'T compare the ready-to-wear line with the cosmetics and perfumery one, it's nothing to do with each other and that's why the beauty products are still under the label YSL.
Personally, I'm trusting Hedi Slimane despite the rumors that he's a 'diva', extremely difficult to deal with. Anyway, he's just starting his reign, we'll see how he's gonna mature his vision, what he has in store for us and maybe this is just an initial tease for a bigger extraordinary chapter.
Spring/Summer 2013 Campaign photographed by Hedi Slimane himself.