Hedi Slimane's debut at YSL... The evolution of a brand.


On the first day of October (2012), Hedi Slimane showed us his first collection for the house of Saint Laurentnée Yves. In likening his debut to a figure-skating performance, technically, everything was there;  artistically, it came up a bit short...

Slimane's debut was preceded by doubt and cynicism from a slew of fashion industry veterans, some of whom took to social media to express their concerns about the brand and how Slimane might fumble a complete overhaul of the Yves legacy. Slimane is known for his laser-like, bespoke tailoring, of which he makes careful and studied approaches to designing ready-to-wear; a technique which caused an uproar when it found its way to the marketing room, as he surgically removed the 'Yves' from the brand's moniker, solely utilizing the remaining 'Saint Laurent' (while adding the brand's city of origin, Paris).

With much speculation surrounding the re-design, the house's chief operators stood behind the name change, reportedly stating that it was virtually inevitable (as part of a new, creative process). In addition, the world waited with baited breath, to see what Slimane would have to offer, in regards to the actual clothing.

(a young, Yves Saint Laurent, sketching a design)

(a 1990's, Yves Saint Laurent, haute-couture design)

Hints of 1970's glamour danced around the silhouettes of Slimane's models; he incorporated large, brimmed hats, suede fabrications and fringed details.

(Hedi Slimane's debut for Saint Laurent. S/S '13)

Saint Laurent (the designer, who was born to French parents, in Algeria; north Africa), before his death (in 2008), regularly cited his birthplace and neighboring Morocco, as a source of constant inspiration for his designs, and was one of the first, major fashion designers to include Black models in his shows.

(an early, Saint Laurent advertisement featuring Iman)

To his credit, Slimane (the ever-so enigmatic researcher and intellectual), clearly took notice of the late-great's nuances, and showcased several of them on the Spring/Summer 2013 runway.

(the big bow)

(the Moroccan-inspired, caftan)

(the tuxedo)

(the 'peek-a-boob,' sheer top)

(the safari)

(the Black girl, who closed the show. Grace Mahary)

Although not a critically-acclaimed collection (nor a smash, with me, personally), I cannot overlook the fact that Slimane did -at least- try to hit all the marks that Yves was known for (more so than any of his YSL predecessors). Quite possibly, the most notable critique of Slimane's debut, came from the New York Times fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, who had a well-publicized feud with the designer, of which, she was not invited to his show, prompting her to write a purportedly biased/mixed-review, to which Slimane publicly responded (stating that he might never again, invite Horyn to any of his showings for the label).

(Cathy Horyn)

However (heated banter aside), Horyn is still -undoubtedly- an industry icon, just as Slimane is an incredibly talented designer, yet, even with all the archival references in his collection, Slimane failed to play up to the fans (which is an important part of the job), as he did not deliver any modicum of the glitz and glam that Yves was known for (which too, is -no doubt- what many had hoped for). This type of nonchalance is, perhaps, the same reason why Pilati and Alber Elbaz were let go from the design post at YSL, and why Tom Ford is still -sort of- revered as the heir apparent to Yves' luxurious and decadent legacy.

(Tom Ford x YSL. F/W 2001)

Oddly enough, it's wise to note that Ford's (along with Pilati's and Elbaz's), 'debut,' Spring/Summer collections for YSL, were neither 100% glitzy nor glamorous, and weren't too polar opposite from what Slimane showcased on his runway.

(Elbaz's, Spring/Summer 'debut' for YSL. 2000)

(Ford's, Spring/Summer 'debut' for YSL. 2001

(Pilati's, Spring/Summer 'debut' for YSL. 2005)

(Slimane's, Spring/Summer 'debut' for YSL. 2013)

In all honesty, I can appreciate the name change (read: modernization), of the Saint Laurent brand, because it's ironically, something that Yves -himself- did (utilizing the 'Saint Lauren-Rive Gauche' moniker for ready-to-wear), and somewhat a breath of fresh air, as well as a clear-cut way for Slimane (or any designer), to overtly distance himself from the house's past (read: the Ford's, and Elbaz's and Pilati's), while still readying the brand for the future. Hopefully next season's -Fall/Winter 2013- collection will prove to be more of a crowd pleaser, so that we can all move on, sans the anxiety...

xoxo, Avon!


www.google.com, www.style.com, www.nytimes.com, www.ysl.com

1 comment:

  1. Very elaborate explanation and wisely done! #kudos


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