A lot of people are liking Saint Laurent, a strange mutation of the once classic Yves Saint Laurent. I, as usual, was and still am incredibly confused by the general public’s acceptance of the re-brand. Never have I been so disappointed by a brand’s evolution (actually, Sarah Burton’s mutilation of McQueen is equal to this, but that’s a different story and a different article).
It appears that the first warning sign was the move from Yves Saint Laurent to “Saint Laurent.” The decision to sever “Yves” from the label was that of recently-appointed created director Hedi Slimane. It seems to me that Mr. Slimane severed not only YSL’s iconic name, but its sense of an elegant and strong femininity as well.
I must say before I start, that I don’t think Slimane is a bad designer. He’s not. I might not share his style or taste, but I have to admit that he has created some good pieces in the past. He is also an excellent photographer. What he isn’t, however, is the right choice for a label like Yves Saint Laurent.
I must say before I start, that I don’t think Slimane is a bad designer.
The controversy (and my anger) surrounding Mr. Slimane’s creative decisions have been around for a while, but it seems that my brain selectively forgot about it until I decided to look at the menswear collections I’d missed. Lo and behold, there were Hedi’s designs parading under the Saint Laurent label like some kind of bizarre joke once again, and this time all the misplaced anger I’d felt stayed with me.
Admittedly, I actually liked Slimane’s first womenswear collection for Saint Laurent (Spring 2013 if you were wondering). It took a bit to get used to, but after mulling it over for a while, and seeing the clothes in stores, I can admit that it’s something I would consider spending money on.
It was an odd combination, but I love both witches and YSL so it worked for me.
At first glance, it’s a strong echo of classic YSL. Staples like pussy bows and the classic Le Smoking made an appearance, all combined with a faint echo of Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic safari collection. It seemed like a fitting yet safe opening show for a new designer, kind of like what Alexander Wang pulled off at Balenciaga this past season. Besides the obvious classic YSL tones, however, Slimane had decided to add his own flair. This new Saint Laurent woman was part classic YSL, part L.A. coven member. It was an odd combination, but I love both witches and YSL so it worked for me.
Now, it’s no secret that Hedi Slimane has an obsession with L.A. Ever since moving from Paris to California, he’s paced a strong focus on L.A. style and music. Although a bit odd for such a prestigious label as YSL, Mr. Laurent himself took much inspiration from other cities, countries and cultures for his collections. It seemed to me in a way that Slimane was attempting to do the same thing.
Yves Saint Laurent, however, looked to many places for inspiration. In his subsequent collections, Slimane’s gaze has remained fixed on L.A. Both of his subsequent menswear collections show little evolution from the skinny suit style that made him famous at Dior Homme, but they now also showcase what is possibly the worst incorporation of LA style. I mean, look at Fall 2013:
This isn’t Yves Saint Laurent, this is Steven Tyler goes to goodwill.
And it somehow only got worse for Spring 2014:
And while that collection is in my opinion horrific by YSL — or Saint Laurent, whatever — standards, the worst offender to date is women’s Fall 2013 RTW. Just take a look first.
I’m not quite sure what this is, save for a misguided vision created with irrelevant inspirations in mind. Grunge is long past, and classic punk is dead and recently entombed at the Met (punk’s contemporary incarnation is another story). It’s a collection that lacks finesse, elegance and originality. I could probably recreate these looks by shopping at Urban Outfitters, Topshop and a thrift store. I have no idea what Slimane was thinking when he created this collection and frankly, I don’t want to. Perhaps he was aiming to shock the public, engage the young “hip” fashion spectator or make his clothes more marketable. Whatever. I don’t particularly care. I hate it.
I’m not quite sure what this is, save for a misguided vision created with irrelevant inspirations in mind.
I can only hope that this ghastly, whitewashed and unrefined collection is some type of shock tactic. Slimane’s first womenswear collection showed some promise. Maybe if he decides to expand his influences and evolve his designs he’ll prove to be an asset to the YSL name. If he continues down this path, however, he can do us all a favor and find somewhere else to stay.