I really tried not to be too negative about Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine. I knew that it would never be as perfect as Phoebe Philo’s Céline. With her impact, her vision and her understanding of women, she’s irreplaceable at this maison. But to my own regret, I had a silly thought that maybe, maybe, two years of fashion hiatus lets a designer… develop? Progress? But no. Hedi Slimane stubbornly thinks that his aesthetic is it, wherever he designs, whether at Dior Homme, at Saint Laurent or at Celine. The debut collection had been called Paris La Nuit and was intended to be all about youth and late night party-ing. How predictable. The former Céline woman / client / fan dropped a tear the minute the first look walked down the runway – a polka-dot mini-dress with puffy sleeves. What’s worse, it seems to me that Hedi still considers today’s youth to dream about looking pale, unhealthily skinny and, mhh, dull? The model selection triggers another question: what about the diversity the model industry fights for lately? Slimane seems not to bother. Also, please note that in a pre-show interview, he clearly stated he’s solely interested in the young, and he will design for the young. He kept the promise. So we’ve got ageism, too! And yes, I know that elder models are still a rarity on the catwalks, but at least most brands don’t narrow down their target age in such a rude, discriminatory way. Let everyone dress the way they want and feel like – don’t exclude.
Slimane’s collection isn’t thought-provoking in a good way at all. I find it shallow and monotonous. Just clothes that literally look like his YSL bits: slim and grungy. To be honest, I even don’t find any sense in listing the women’s clothes he presented. The menswear part – completely new to Celine – is said to be unisex. We’re talking about very tightly fitted tuxedos, that yes, might be very well-tailored, but hardly empower anyone. Also, I smell some vague talk about gender fluidity, that desperately tries to make this collection even slightly relevant. It’s truly painful that LVMH, who is reportedly so assured of financial success coming from Hedi’s dictatorship (it’s not a typo), wants to ‘improve’ Celine this way. One word: frustrating. Conclusions: please, give Slimane his own namesake label, where his followers can go, and stay. Phoebe, I know it was you who left, but please consider coming back to us as soon as possible. There are French houses that need your help. There are people, who need you and love you!
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
On Friday, we “officially” discovered that Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent for good. And yesterday, the loud rumours were approved – Anthony Vaccarello is the new main man behind the French house. In fact, there is no surprise, as for me. Vaccarello’s appealing, sharp and super short skirts and mini-dresses have always felt very close aesthetically to Slimane’s skimpy silhouettes, while the femme fatale attire, which is conveyed by the Belgian designer season-to-season might be just the perfect match for a post-Hedi era (and who knows, finally a good choice for Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy continuation). One thing’s sure – Vaccarello’s clothes that we know now would look perfect, fittingly perfect on the marbles that his predecessor placed in all the Saint Laurent flagships world-wide. But I hope that this quiet, Anja-Rubik-friendship-goal guy will take a riskier path in his new chapter, having his debut next September for the spring-summer 2017 season.
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.
According to rumours, Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent – which, perhaps, would be a huge relief for some. Indeed, the autumn-winter 2016 collection felt like a good-bye wave, if you compare it to last seasons. And, at the same time, it was the most Yves Saint Laurent collection up to date, coming from Slimane’s “skinny pants and grunge shirts” world. The big, big shoulders of 80’s; dazzling, sequin dresses; killer heels styled with sleek smokings. For a moment, Saint Laurent’s soul and the famous Le Scandale era revived, and stole the Paris Fashion Week spotlight. But then, the models were distinctly Hedi, as all of them had a below “size 0” posture. If this was the last show coming from ex-Dior Homme designer, then it has been quite impressive, even though some of these mini-dresses looked overly cheesy, rather chic. But, if this was another outing from Slimane… then I wish he leaves the house right now, just as I did a few years ago, when he was appointed to be the new creative director. I know, I am an anti-Hedi person. And honestly, is Anthony Vaccarello the right choice for the house (the next rumour…)? His design aesthetic seems to be too close to Slimane’s, as for me.
This, what Hedi Slimane is doing at Saint Laurent is rude. Simply impolite. After seeing the spring-summer 2016 collection, I wonder what other designers think. They surely feel an unbearable frustration. Keeping up with fashion industry, season-to-season, is hard. And when they compare their hard work with Hedi’s, they just retire for a ten-day escape to the country-side. Hedi Slimane is praised for nothing – or at least, for his truly effortless fashion which doesn’t need much of thinking. Saint Laurent’s fashion became as shallow as Moschino by Jeremy Scott, or even to a bigger extend.
So, the SS16 collection is an explosion of smarmy eroticism – sheer slip-dresses, trashy fish-net tops and kitsch, gold sandals look tasteless and definitely not as expensive as they are. There is no big deal that the feather boa was made by the Parisian couture assistants, if it looks like a stolen prop from an opera. The tiaras don’t need any comment. And “free the nipple” moments were meant to be so “accidental”, that the overall effect felt pretentious and artificial. The solemn faces of models (and Agyness Deyn) just helped Hedi Slimane say out loud – “I am the designer at YSL and I really don’t care“. If everybody, except a few of critics and consciously thinking clients, adore this collection, then where is fashion heading off to? Hopefully not to a pair of basic jeans and an effing tank top.