Hedi Slimane rocks Saint Laurent
I went to the Saint Laurent Hong Kong showroom a few weeks ago to peruse Hedi Slimane's controversial new wares. It was a good time to take a fresh look at a collection that left some in shock after its debut in Paris.
Although his revamp of the famous French label hasn't gone down all that smoothly in the mainstream media, musicians seem to like it.
His subversive rebranding has seen a very cool musical collaboration with Daft Punk, while Goth rocker Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love both star in the latest Saint Laurent campaigns.
You get a sense that he is more comfortable hanging out with the likes of Jack White and British band Razorlight, than air kissing fashion editors.
Eschewing traditional high fashion choices, Slimane has focused on bringing artists, visual and musical, into the Saint Laurent fold, as he did previously at Dior Homme.
By dressing stars from rock greats Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones to dance-pop starlet Sky Ferreira, Slimane has repositioned Saint Laurent as a go to brand for the music set.
By casting off traditional red carpet glamour, Slimane is again bringing the streets onto the runway. It is a defiant move, particularly controversial in Paris, where the brand is based.
But the designer is no stranger to going against the grain. It was Slimane who revolutionised the male silhouette in high fashion during his time at Dior Homme. He made the grungy cigarette shape so fashionable that Karl Lagerfeld even admitted to losing weight just to fit into Slimane's trousers.
Seeing his Saint Laurent clothes up close, there were several things we had missed on the catwalk: some lovely detailing, painstaking workmanship and intricate hand beading. I was especially impressed by the minimalist jewellery and chic range of bags for next seasons.
I see why they appeal to rock'n'roll figures. The sense of luxury and subtle fabrications weren't obvious on the spotlit catwalk, and the show was instead dominated by grungy overtones and youthful cuts. It's easier to get Slimane's Saint Laurent in person.
It will be a few more seasons before Slimane's message matures. His redesign of the store concepts should be very interesting; Hong Kong's Alexandra House store will reveal it's revamp in mid July.
In the few public communications about his plans for Saint Laurent, Slimane has talked about bringing the brand back to its roots.
The name change (from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent Paris) that had everyone gasping was actually a return to the label's previous name under the founder.
Like the founder of the label, it seems that he prefers to look outside the tightly knit fashion industry for inspiration.