The 2010s / Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Hedi Slimane‘s Saint Laurent.

Hate it or love it, but Hedi Slimane’s time at Saint Laurent was one of the most influential moments in fashion this decade. The designer not only completely rebranded the brand (from the name – no more Yves – to the worldwide store appearances), introduced new “brand ambassadors” (Courtney Love, Beck, Kim Gordon, Joni Mitchell AND Marilyn Manson, all photographed by the designer for ad campaigns) and infamously called out the critics just for being honest (the Cathy Horyn beef!), but also polarised the fashion industry into two camps: Hedi fanatics, who go crazy for his Celine today, and Hedi sceptics. The designer implemented a youthful, rock & roll and very L.A. mood to the label, sending down baby-doll dresses, vintage-looking floral frocks, super-mini skirts and heavy boots with the attitude of the most rebellious girl in town. One of the most memorable collections he “designed” for the house? Definitely the autumn-winter 2013 show. It was inspired with the lifestyle of Venice Beach, California, and nodded to Yves’ The Scandal Collection from 1971, which was called “notorious” and “disgusting” by its guests (but in the end became iconic). As Tim Blanks pointed out about this Slimane collection, “almost nothing looked new”. Sloppy cardigans, plaid shirts and sparkly dresses accessorized with strings of pearls and black bows. While grunge was long dead, Slimane brought it back to life, and what’s the most ironic – the entire collection was sold out, even though the price tags were far, far from the thrift store originals. Of course Marc Jacobs’ final Perry Ellis collection was first, but Slimane appeared to be in the right place and right time with this line-up. I’m still on fence with Slimane’s era at YSL, but one thing’s sure: it was much more disruptive (and naughty) than Anthony Vaccarello’s work today for tha maison.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Grunge Baroque. Paco Rabanne Pre-Fall 2019

Julien Dossena‘s spring-summer 2019 collection for Paco Rabanne was one of the season’s biggest highlights – which was, to be honest, an absolute surprise. With the designer’s equally good pre-fall 2019 look-book, it’s visible that Rabanne is going up, up and up in the ranks. The collection continues the boheme eclecticism from summer, but feels even more confident. It’s a clash of baroque and grunge – think floral tapestry prints and plaid shirts. It’s like the designer invites both Queen Elizabeth and Courtney Love to the table. Equestrian tailoring goes with checked pants, while tank-tops are worn over chainmail dresses (distinctly Rabanne piece, looking as innovative in 2019 as in the 60s). When you take off the tiara and stay with the daywear, this is a very approachable, chic wardrobe. But then, should we part with the tiara?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Grunge is Back. Marc Jacobs Resort 2019

When Marc Jacobs presented his now iconic collection for Perry Ellis in 1993, he was rather close to being burned at the stake. Unapologetically grunge-isnpired, the collection went down with the leading critics and editors, except for Grace Goddington, who styled that equally (at the time) risky editorial for Vogue, visibly very obsessed with Jacobs’ bold move. Perry Ellis fired the designer right away, and became what it is today – a boring, apparel-focused brand for men. Quite unsurprisingly, the ‘true’ grunge world hated Jacobs for doing this collection, too, with Courtney Love and Curt Kobain reportedly burning the pile of clothing Marc designed with them in mind. But that’s history.

We’re in 2018, and Courtney Love’s daughter – Frances Bean Cobain – is one of the faces of Marc Jacobs, the brand. Even more ironic is the fact that Coco Gordon Moore, the daughter of Kim Gordon (aka grunge godmother) wears Jacobs’ newest collection called, wait for it: Redux Grunge. For resort 2019, the designer brings back 26 looks he designed for the controversial Grunge collection, now with his tag on them. The looks, shot by Juergen Teller (who used to be Marc’s long-time collaborator for years until 2014 – now might be back doing the ad campaigns!), are a testament to the brazenness and timelessness of the designer’s vision. They are as relevant today as they were revolutionary (or even infamous) 25 years ago. Well, that’s true – if not Jacobs, grunge would die with its subculture and never arrive to the mainstream. Crotchet cardigans, a midriff cutout knit dress as seen first on Kristen McMenamy (now on her daughter, Lily McMenamy), rainbow striped beanies, Dr. Martens boots, a cropped blazer baby Kate Moss would wear down the runway, chokers… well, it’s all pretty much identical. I can’t say it looks fresh – it isn’t the collection’s intention in the first place. But somehow, I like it, I like that free-spirited feeling being revived right now, at this moment. Still, it’s such a stark contrast to Jacobs’ saccharine and dramatic spring-summer 2019 collection… that you might really have problems with realising that one person can both do both, rough and sweet.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, feauturing different visuals by Juergen Teller.

Melting Pot. Alexander Wang SS19

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It seems that the New York fashion calendar is about to break down entirely. Some major designers show in Paris; some are coming back home, and to the regular schedule  (Proenza Schouler is the latest); and some, like Alexander Wang, decide to show ahead of all, in the Big Apple, and persuade us, the confused viewers, not to call it spring-summer 2019 – but rather, the enigmatic ‘season 1’. Yes, I know that might be too much. But surprisingly, all those switches did good to Wang. Not that I adore his latest collection, but it’s so much better than his last seasons. At least, it’s not trying to mean too  much as it did the last time with the Matrix-CEO theme.

The inspiration started with Alexander’s mum and dad taking a trip together, and their immigration to America. Still, the collection wasn’t meant to be overly political, so migration wasn’t the ultimate key here. The designer focused on the notion of more dynamic, risk-involving travelling, or rather riding. Maybe the attitude close to Lana Del Rey’s Ride music video might be a clue. In overall, the collection felt like a creative melting pot shaped from Wang’s experiences, fascinations and aesthetics. We’ve had the Axl Rose bandanas; motocross gears; leather mini skirts and ‘piercing’ tops made of pins; football jerseys. Is that the today’s grunge according to Alex? Who knows. Definitely, Wang felt a lot of joy, while designing the collection, as all of that is truly, but truly him.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

 

Teen Spirit. Miu Miu SS18

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While at her main line in Milan, Miuccia Prada discussed real heroines and the female gaze through comic-like prints, in Paris she sparked the 80s / 90s teen spirit. Ballerina-length lace dresses, checked lumberjack shirts and college sweaters were like the thrift-shop finds of rebellious students, who are about to spend a night playing in their garage band. But a bit more prettier. That’s precisely something a true Miu Miu girl will fall in love with the next season. I also liked the grunge / prairie girl contrast. But the overall effect is not too sophisticated and rather goes back to Miu Miu’s original roots: those are clothes for a younger audience. What really felt like a ‘moment’ this season was the perfectly balanced model casting: over half of the models were non-Caucasian, which tells one simple thing: yes, it’s possible, fashion industry. Please, take notes from Anita Bitton, the brand’s casting director.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

A New York Party. R13 AW17

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Here we’re again – at the New York Fashion week, the starting point of fashion month marathon. And who’s on the first shot? Chris Leba‘s rebellious R13. Launched in 2009, R13 was firstly associated with denim and apparel essentials like plaid shirts and tank-tops. Right now, it’s on the same sporty-grunge-cool shelf as Rag & Bone or Alexander Wang, reviving the 90s and sparking New York’s all-night party mood. Leba’s autumn-winter 2017 collection was nearly, but NEARLY, like one of those perfectly curated Tumblrs filled with nostalgic photos of Courtney Love, Kurt Cobain (the latter’s face was placed on one of the extra-big sweatshirts) and Kate Moss doing cocaine. But – thanks God – it didn’t fall into a cliché, which heavily hit last season’s designers. Although there were floral-print slip dresses and shearling jackets, R13 felt different, the attitude of these clothes was real. Tailored coats, over-sized chunky knits, semi-Victoriana collar shirts – this is precisely how a New York model scout or editor would dress today. From brilliant model cast (Lera Abova, Jamie Bochert, Julia Banas to name a few) to styling, Leba’s entry to the new season is a success.

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Distorted Grunge. Marques Almeida SS17

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There’s plenty of street-wise collections this season, but Pablo and Marta of Marques Almeida own this attitude since the beginnings of their London-based label. It’s real, and not just influenced by the current obsession with youth. The new collection was modelled by their friends / muses, and that might be the reason why these clothes seemed to be so relevant and natural. Leg-of-mutton sleeves were styled with brocade mini-dresses and sporty t-shirts, giving the impression of a thrift-shop-made look. The combination of denim high thigh boots, and a dress with ridiculously big collar distorted any proportions left, and the whole outfit was pretty peculiar – but that’s what Marques Almeida’s codes are all about. Pink hair, lace-trimmed tank-tops and striped panties instead of a skirt: is it the 2016 version of grunge?

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The New Revolutionaries

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Fashion is continuous in communicating on what’s happening in the world. Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren shaped the 70s punk scene in Great Britain, shaking up the aristocratic nation; Marc Jacobs took grunge into the world of high fashion at Perry Ellis in 1993. There was Raf Simons with studded, skinny pants for boys, and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent years later, reviving Yves’ (in)famous scandale spirit. All of those designers wanted to show rebellion, and made history. This season, the mood of rebellion was present, too, but introduced in a different way. If you want to look defiant, leave your mud-splattered boots behind.

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Marc Jacobs and Lucie de la Falaise, Perry Ellis era

Take Rei Kawabuko and her autumn-winter 2016 collection at Comme des Garçons – it was an ode to the 18th century, but not in the way you might have expected. The silhouettes were voluminous, while the textures clashed with contrasts. Instead of embroideries and embellishments, opulence played a different role. “The 18th century was a time of change and revolution,” Rei said. “This is how I imagine punks would look, if they had lived in this century.” Think about French aristocracy, and just remind yourself some Marie Antoinette’s pouf hair-style or Louis XIV’s obsession with heels. Ball-dresses, splendour of colours – this is how the Incroyables originated, putting a barrier between them, and others. Their looks shouted “I’m in the elite – you’re NOT”. In fact that was a kind of punk gesture, if you look at that from another perspective. Paradoxically, Kawakubo wasn’t mistaken – punks, different punks, already existed before Dame Vivienne. Living in their saccharine wardrobes and eating cupcakes while the poor starved was to an extend… radical.

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Comme des Garcons AW16

Good times changed for aristocracy, and the French revolution proves that. John Galliano‘s spring-summer 1993 collection was a modern-day interpretation, of how a Merveilleuse (female equivalent for Incroyable) could have looked before execution. Of course with grace! A sheer  dress which looked nearly like a piece of underwear; her hair of fleek. Decapitation had to be chic, and Galliano’s spectacular collection filled with tattered frock coats, dilapidated chiffon, and extravagantly puff-sleeved gowns was a controversial success.

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All of the above: John Galliano SS93

But coming back to 2016. Marc Jacobs‘ latest outing was all about full skirts and big dresses in polished leather. Platforms were there. Those ladies were like the bad queens and bad princesses from a fantasy, while their outfits were loud nods to monarchy looks. For Maison Margiela, Galliano devoted his haute couture collection once again to the Incroyables, presenting coats with exaggerated tails. But this time, the one-of-a-kind pieces were mixed with high-tech textiles and hand-made chantilly lace. John explained his artisanal season as a reflection of today’s world troubles. “I didn’t want to repeat what I did as a kid,” said Galliano. “But it has the rebellious attitude of youth.” Lastly, Dries Van Noten was inspired with Marchesa Casati’s avant-garde aura. She was, you’ve guessed well, an unconventional aristocrat, with her smokey eyes, layers of pearl necklaces and exotic furs. She looked different that all the other fancy dames from those times – and that’s why Dries felt appeal to her. An embodiment of punk? Yes.

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Marc Jacobs AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Dries Van Noten AW16

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Above: Maison Margiela Haute Couture AW16

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Farewell, Hedi!

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After months of speculations, Kering has confirmed – Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent. Did Hedi realise that there is not enough place for him and Demna Gvasalia, the other designer who makes cheap-looking clothes with four digit price-tags? Let’s be clear – Slimane, during his three-and-a-half year tenure was the master of hypocrisy. Do you remember the autumn-winter 2013, when he presented mohair cardigans, studded boots and skimpy, leather dresses? Some said it was a modern-day nod to Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial Le Scandale collection. But some were more realistic, and not that optimistic – these clothes looked like grunge, but a la River Island circa 2010 rather than Kurt Cobain. Even though in the same year Courtney Love became the face of Saint Laurent. If talking of another odd things that happened during Slimane’s “era” – the tiaras from SS16. One costs, yes, 995 euros here. And it gets even more ironic, when you note that this is a prom-like, brass tiara embellished with rhinestone. Not with gems, silver or, huh, diamonds. I doubt it’s even Swarovski.

However, Hedi Slimane can be at least praised for the speed and desperation with which he had totally revamped the house. The interiors of the flagship stores, which used to be so boring with Stefano Pilati in charge, got the marble upgrade, while the advertisement campaigns – starring Kim Gordon, Joni Mittchel and lately, Jane Birkin – were always photographed by him, and had a cool, LA-rooted rock’n’roll spark. Also, it’s reported that the revenue of the brand increased in all categories, from accessories to clothes. People are buying Saint Laurent, so there is surely an undefined reason for Slimane’s success. But then, why did he leave? And will Anthony Vaccarello, whose aesthetic isn’t far from Hedi’s, get the point? Time will tell. But for now, let’s look back at the journey that Slimane took us to.

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