Hedi and the peak of Saint Laurent
Without a shadow of a doubt, Hedi Slimane is in my top three designers dead or alive. Now that being said it hurts to see the mastermind Hedi create this period of geniuses at Saint Laurent from 2013-2016 only to be destroyed by Anthony Vaccarello in 2017. We saw a total of eight menswear collections two collections for every year. Understandings Hedi’s collections at Saint Laurent we must understand his poetic gesture for YSL. Originally named Yves Saint Laurent by Yves himself in the 1900’s Yves attempted to make YSL a couture line and name his clothing line Saint Laurent Paris. At the time the change wasn't a smooth transition as Yves planned which resulted in sticking to the original name of the line Yves Saint Laurent.When Hedi returned to Saint Laurent in 2012 working to release SS13 in a homage to Yves, Hedi dropped the title Yves Saint Laurent and turned it into a couture line and carried on the original plan for the fashion house that was long overdue. YSL was no longer now we have Saint Laurent Paris. With backlash, Hedi continued the plan.
Now after seeing Mr.Slimane’s tenure at Dior we saw the skinny silhouette and aesthetic that was perfected by Hedi. Slimane himself said him being so thin he was made fun of growing up by his peers as his body shape was often correlated with homosexuality. Hedi takes his inspiration from Rock and Roll culture heavy mixed with his skinny silhouettes and although he did not create skinny jeans he for sure catapulted them and made the cool. Bringing the rock and roll aesthetic mixed with Southern American inspiration Hedis style was a trademark that was so clearly his, any mimic would often result in backlash for stealing his look. Which we see with Mike Amiri who blatantly steals Hedi's work without any effort in trying to cover it up. Coming into Saint Laurent with the rebel attitude Hedi did exactly that. Whatever Slimane wanted to do, he did.
Looking at Autumn/Winter 13(FW13) this is considered the be all end all collection by all the Saint Laurent cultist and Hedi boys. The big stage for Hedi we saw the beautiful, iconic wyatt harness boot. The destroyed denim or the chain distressed denim. We also see the first iteration of the “Teddy Jacket” which is a varsity box cut jacket without the tacky leather sleeves. Leather pants are a key element to the rock aesthetic and with the D02 tailoring installed the leather d02 jeans make anyone look like a member of Aerosmith. The whole collection was a huge hit not to mention the success of Spring Summer 13 women's collection. Every piece, every outfit was so masterfully done and well crafted. As Hedi’s first menswear collection we wonder how will this be topped. Well, Hedi’s constantly delivered great collections and with most designers either their collections are hit or miss but Hedi just kept delivering with his masterpieces. Slimane also creates an ambiance with his stage setting and the music played in the back.
With 2014 only cementing Hedi’s creation the following years can almost be merged. Not in a bad way but the whole rock and southern aesthetic were permanently branded with Slimane. Each season had iterations of his work with different textures, cuts, and colors. The outerwear usually was always different than the previous seasons and was always tailored to a slim fitting. Something to look into almost as an easter egg is all the different variations and colors of the Teddy Jacket which is a real collector's items for Saint Laurent enthusiast. Coming closer to his end with Spring Summer 2016 we saw a bit of a curveball. As mentioned Hedi often has the rock influence but Surf Sound was based off the L.A surf look with some grunge and more color and patterns. With the colorful background and the flashing neon lights, the traditional Hedi look wasn't as present with this collection and instead off boots we saw low top sneakers although boots were still released at retailers we saw a break from the skinny jean leather jacket combo with the wyatts. We saw dinosaur sweaters with neon colors with black hemmed jeans and white sneakers. Juxtaposing the traditional skinny longer length denim we were so accustomed too. Regardless the collection was still a success with beautiful flannels and western jackets the heart of rock was still there. Now Palladium Fall/Winter 16 is Hedi's last collection at Saint Laurent. This collection was more like FW13 in the sense of heavy jackets and the long skinny denim. This collection we saw a lot of velvet in terms of blazers and boots as well as implements of silver and gold. The Parisian influences also come to light. The color palettes were also warmer as opposed to Hedi’s more traditional palette that Saint Laurent was used to. But deeper in the same sense, there are pieces that are a nice vibrant red but then we'll see a deep maroon velvet blazer. Overall the collection was a great end to Hedi’s Slimane tenure at Saint Laurent Paris. It honestly is sad to see Hedi walk away and leave this amazing legacy at one of the most iconic fashion houses. What hurts, even more, is the poor decision of appointing Anthony Vaccarello as the creative director. The decline of quality and creativity is so poor. The house Hedi helped build was torn by Anthony. All we can hope is Hedi returns to the industry after his break. And if Hedi chooses not to return to the industry at least we will have the memories of his work from Dior Homme and Saint Laurent Paris.