We say a heartfelt goodbye as Slimane leaves Saint Laurent.
It’s official: after months of speculation and rumors aplenty, Kering have announced today that Hedi Slimane has stepped down as Creative Director of Saint Laurent. Coming to the esteemed house in 2012, Slimane undertook a major rebrand of YSL, famously dropping the “Yves”, redecorating all the stores, and, most significantly, heralding in a new rock’n’roll-grunge aesthetic that’s won the label scores of fans worldwide. That, combined with his trademark black and white photography and knack for picking out the skinniest, sexiest and most obscure musicians to shoot, has ensured that Saint Laurent has undoubtedly regained its luster as one of fashion’s most iconic brands. In honour of his departure, we’re counting down our favourite Slimane moments: long live the king!
As Slimane’s debut collection at Saint Laurent, the stakes were always going to be high on this one. Fittingly, there were no half-measures here. The maestro went in hard, resurrecting the skinny-jean led aesthetic that he made his name with in the early 00s, but throwing in some 70s dandy in the form of billowy sleeves as well as those oversized hats that were destined to become achingly ubiquitous over the next few years.
Here come the boys; Slimane’s first menswear outing since his glory days at Dior Homme set the tone for everything that was to come. Guys with waifish frames and messy hair in shredded jeans and skinny scarves define the Saint Laurent we’ve come to know and love: a truly luxurious take on Camden’s indie scene circa 2005.
All Leopard Print Errything
Is there anything more Saint Laurent than leopard print? Once the preserve of veteran Eastender Pat Butcher, Slimane proved that if you make it skinny and wear it with enough attitude, leopard can work on everything from coats to boots, to skirts to blouses…you name it, he’s made it spotty and oh so covetable.
As much a photographer as a designer, Slimane’s iconic black and white shooting style is instantly recognisable and now utterly synonoymous with Saint Laurent. Over the years, the Frenchman has tapped the singular beauty of legends as diverse as Marilyn Manson and Courtney Love, new faces like Dylan Brosnan and even more mature idols Joni Mitchell and Jane Birkin. Who said fashion’s a kid’s game?
Okay, so the only thing more Saint Laurent than leopard print is the mighty boot. Whether it’s a clunky platform, a glitter clad disco creation, a grungey combat or, of course, a Cuban heeled Chelsea of the most gracefully chiseled proportions imaginable, no one makes a boot like Hedi Slimane.
The Tuxedo Revamp
If the great Yves Saint Laurent himself is rightly revered for practically inventing Le Smoking for women, then Hedi is also due a nod for bringing Yves’ Tuxedo right up to date. Whether it was skinny or oversized, season after season Slimane served up dinner jackets fit for any girl wanting to throw on something a little more exciting than a red carpet gown. Just ask Wonderbabe Emma Watson: work it!
Though no one could be sure at the time, it wasn’t hard to guess that this was Slimane’s final collection at Saint Laurent. You only needed to look at the setting (an old-fashion hotel), the soundtrack (the same Frenchman who announced each look back in Yves’ day), and the touch of couturier’s class that Hedi topped off his ’80s glam with, to sense that this was no ordinary fashion show. Technical brilliance, subversive spirit, and salon atmosphere combined for a swansong like no other. Slimane, we’ll miss you.