First there was the change (ok, more like reclamation) of the name. Then there was the change of atelier locale to Los Angeles. And last night, amidst much furor, Hedi Slimane at last revealed his first highly anticipated collection for Yves Saint Laurent--excuse me, Saint Laurent Paris which turned out to be, perhaps not shockingly, much changed in all its key components as well. The menswear Slimane couched from press this summer, presenting in utmost secrecy to buyers only. Maybe last night he should have done the same. For the impetus was most certainly directed at revamping the brand with a new-found espousal of that same youthful rejig thanks to clever tricks of styling imbued with the ethos of L.A. so as to cater to what has, perhaps regrettably, become fashion's most desirable customer: the young Hollywood starlet.
Re-cap on New York, London, Milan and Paris Fashion Week here.
This collection rejected much of the brand's DNA in the hopes of regenerating into something younger, trendier and rather removed from Paris. Characterised by styling more than design and cut as in the Pilati-days of yore, the newly rechristened brand has found itself entering a newly and overtly commercial phase of its long sartorial life.
While a few YSL staples remained, Le Smoking bowed in albeit with ten gallon bucket hat, there were pussy bows aplenty (if not also reminiscent of Slimane's tenure at Dior Homme) and there was plenty of black to go around, the majority of the looks seemed to take a cue from the styling book of Rachel Zoe, not the archives of the late Saint Laurent. Bohemian, is the word, though not of the variant for which Paris' Left Bank has so long been famed, here were Coachella-ready cowgirls, billowing fringed maxi dresses (not gowns, maxi dresses) in a rainbow of black, neutral and finally colour, suede jackets, a thatched floor-dusting cardigan, sequined kaftans and even a gold-trimmed floor-length cape.
The stronger moments were to be found in individual pieces. A strikingly well cut maxi skirt riveted in polished leather and a metallic bugle beaded rendition of the same. Black jackets, both tailored and leather when dissected from their composite looks, displayed the mastery of cut that made Slimane such a darling of menswear. There was also a show-stoppingly editorial black and white zigzag floor-length fur coat Cruella de Ville-style that will no doubt soon be gracing the pages of many a glossy. Still, one can only hope that this is just the beginning of a new era, a kick-starting period of adjustment, two big personalities colliding on the runway. For all the covetability of certain looks and pieces, the collection is likely to alienate some of the brand's long-term aficionados who remember the days of Yves himself. Still, evolution is the name of the fashion game, and this collection will certainly score him legions of new, young fans and celebrity devotees which is what staying at the forefront of fashion today is all about.