Paris Fashion Week

Saint Laurent issues rebel yell, but Valentino casts a regal spell

Hedi Slimane's spring-summer muse must be an underdressed Courtney Love in wellies amid the mud of Glastonbury; Valentino duo meanwhile find a sensual take on the tribal

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 October, 2015, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Friday, 09 October, 2015, 10:53am

Saint Laurent’s leggy grunge girl aesthetic is a visceral display of youth culture through the lens of Hedi Sllmane. The appropriation of underground street life for the purposes of high fashion has had controversial results, but Slimane continues his radical revamp of the famous brand. 

This season’s muse appeared to be a young Courtney Love traipsing around Glastonbury, chunky wellies in the mud, tiny, thigh-skimming slip dresses constantly threatening to reveal a flash of nipple or knickers, a bejewelled tiara perched on top of her head.

Under harsh hangover lighting, rake-thin girls stomped down a Paris catwalk. The shorter, barely there outfits, worn with saggy jackets or cardigans, are not sophisticated or easy to get behind at all, especially at the prices that they’ll charge. But then again, Slimane’s detractors are constantly reminded that his revival of the brand has resulted in a surge in profits (largely due to a very popular accessories range).

The fashion was no doubt well made - Saint Laurent’s level of craft is uncontested - but you’d have to see this close up rather than in a show. Long, unembellished and wonderfully cut slip dresses in the show's finale were rather beautiful and dreamy, giving us a glimpse of the red carpet potential for Slimane’s Saint Laurent designs.

While Slimane may be fashion’s enfant terrible - getting into petty arguments with media and critics - Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccoli, the design duo at Valentino, can literally do no wrong. Their epic collection for spring/summer 2016 took on a tribal theme – focused, Valentino said, on “primordial grace”. While this trend has been used by practically everyone in high fashion and on the high street, it takes Valentino to elevate it to new heights.

The collection came as a journey. Feathered accents, beading and motifs were employed on heartbreakingly beautiful long tunic dresses in earthy hues like forest green, dark red, black, ivory and browns. The regal fringeing, feathering, and rich workmanship were all spectacular. References to naïve and tribal art and craft were a nod to the “analogical hand-made approach”, the show notes explained.

Accessories included bold, artistic jewellery pieces that looked like animal bones, made in collaboration with artist Allesandro Gaggio. 

This collection had depth, spirituality and sensuality behind it. Valentino did the near impossible – staging a fashion show that was truly emotional, and perhaps the best of this season.