Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Rock 'n' roll chic and 70s silhouettes reign at Saint Laurent

Hedi Slimane reveals his debut collection for the storied French label Saint Laurent on Monday (October 1) during Paris Fashion Week, the hot ticket event of the season.

PARIS, FRANCE - The unveiling of Hedi Slimane's debut collection for the iconic French house Yves Saint Laurent on Monday (October 1) at the sumptuous Grand Palais national monument was the hot ticket event of Paris Fashion Week, on par with the excitement surrounding the presentation of Raf Simon's first collection for Christian Dior last week.

Top fashion editors, designers and celebrities all waited with baited breath to see Slimane's new vision for the storied brand, which was launched in Paris in 1961. Front-row guests included US Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour, Vogue Japan Editor-at-Large Anna Dello Russo, designers Vivienne Westwood, Azzedine Alaia, Diane Von Furstenburg, Marc Jacobs and Lanvin Creative Director Alber Elbaz, Pierre Berge, the former business partner and long-time companion of the late Yves Saint Laurent, France's First Lady Valerie Trierweiler, as well as the conglomerate luxury group PPR's CEO Francois Pinault and his wife actress Salma Hayek. She was wearing a dress designed by Slimane specifically for the occasion.

Slimane delivered a strong message on the catwalk, sending out sexy rock 'n' roll chicks with glossy straight locks strutting to the American blues track "I Gotta Try You Girl" by Junior Kimbrough with oversized hats and a big dose of attitude. The color palette was minimalist, with black dominating the collection with the occasional metallic sparkle here and there. The silhouette was very 70s with the studded leather maxi skirts, suede fringe jackets, billowy chiffon blouses and flowing Woodstock maxi dresses.

The youthful spirit and masculine flair inherent to the Saint Laurent label were masterfully incorporated into Slimane's debut collection, without sacrificing one bit of Slimane's personal aesthetic. Taking a cue from the brand's archives, Slimane updated Saint Laurent's women's tuxedo and "Le Smoking." In all, it was a tightly-edited collection featuring strong, coherent looks."You know, there's a lot of fuss before the show and I think he put a lot of pressure on himself," Vogue China Editor-in-Chief Angelica Cheung told Reuters after the show. "But I think people are happy with it."

Guests were indeed taken with the collection. Lanvin Creative Director Alber Elbaz, who was the former artistic director for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche from 1998 to 2001, said: "[Slimane] did it his way, he made it relevant, he made it modern. It was really wonderful work." Vogue Japan Editor-at-Large Anna Dello Russo commented: "I love it, it was phenomenal. It was strong and modern and I loved the venue, the lighting, the music." Meanwhile, designer Diane Von Furstenburg gushed: "Beautiful,  I thought it was pure Saint Laurent. And I recognized my youth."

The late Yves Saint Laurent is regarded as a fashion visionary. He is credited for elevating the trenchcoat and peacoat to high fashion status and introducing the idea of "pret-a-porter" into the style lexicon with the establishment of his Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line in 1966, in his attempt to democratize fashion.

Slimane was appointed at the helm of the label in March this year, replacing Stefano Pilati. Slimane was the former Creative Director of the Dior Homme menswear label, as well as the menswear director at Saint Laurent from 1996 to 2000. In addition to being a fashion designer, Slimane is also a skilled photographer, which explains his visual acumen and theatrical ability. For example, his show opened with the ceiling descending upon the audience with the stage lights darting around to heighten the tension.

Slimane has already imposed his mark during his short time at Saint Laurent, moving the entire design team away from its historical home in Paris to downtown Los Angeles, as well as controversially rebranding the label as "Saint Laurent Paris" and changing its logo. Though the bold move garnered fierce criticism from some of the brand's stalwart fans, others saw it as the start of a brilliant new chapter for the 51-year old French label.