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In 2012, Yves Saint Laurent appointed Hedi Slimane as the creative director for their ready to wear line. Slimane, previously of Dior Homme (2000-2007), rebranded the line as Saint Laurent Paris. He created a new image for the brand, printing “Saint Laurent Paris” in helvetica font on minimalistic black or white backgrounds for all labels, ads and packaging. The change prompted humorous t-shirts with the reactionary phrase, “Ain’t Laurent without Yves.” The rebranding was an ostentatious move by the skinny French rocker who is almost always pictured with his fingers in his pockets, thumbs sticking out. The pose seems to be an image that is carefully curated; most of his models imitate it as they strut down the runway.
The invisible hand of Hedi apparently reaches far and wide to find models who fit the image of effortless cool that he hopes to convey in his theatrical runway shows. Wyatt Shears was the opening model for the FW2013 runway show and his twin brother, Fletcher Shears, was featured in a glassy eyed portrait that was printed 20 feet tall on the rear wall of the Saint Laurent Rodeo Drive Store that season. These teenage twins were not working as models. The pair was snatched out of their garage where they were playing as an unheard-of band called “The Garden.” Slimane brought the pair to Paris to be runway models because their rocker style fit the model of indifference chic that Slimane wants us to associate with the SLP brand. Each season on the runway sees new additions to the pack of skinny boys carefully chosen to fit the bill.
Because Slimane is primarily recognized for his history as creative director of major French fashion houses, it is easy to forget that his personal passion seems to be photography. Look at his personal website and you’ll find thousands of black and white photos of pretty boys and girls playing electric guitars or smoking cigarettes in dimly lit dives. It would be incorrect to call his recent work in fashion ‘original.’ Rather, Slimane’s recent work is like a photograph. His recent collections are distillations of styles surrounding various music subcultures of the 20th century.
Images of Slimane at Coachella via
Hedi Slimane insists on running the Saint Laurent Paris brand while living in Los Angeles. This season, the Spring/Summer 2015 “Psych Rock” Collection, the Los Angeles influence is unmistakable. In the Echo Park neighborhood, streetwear reflects the same Vietnam-era psychedelic western looks that Hedi Slimane drew influence from for this season. You can find vintage clothing that inspired the looks in the hand-picked vintage section of American Rag on La Brea. Slimane seems to have drawn most of his influence from the youthful patrons of Coachella and Psych Fest. There are snaps of the skinny frenchman with his camera at Coachella. You can see the streetstyle that influenced this season at this Austin Psych Fest Streetstyle blog.
YSL Runway via
Slimane produces intensely theatrical runway productions. This season, the bright golden light poured in from the back of the building, an indoor sunset emanating from a wall of LEDs. The glittering golden panels and the whining vocal cries recalled Sergio Leone’s best known Spaghetti westerns, which were released during the 60s psychedelic rock era that Slimane named this collection for. Stoic as the man with no name, the first model was brought in, strafing the glimmering sunset. It was a striking image as he walked out of a wall of glimmering sun. The runway show was bathed in the music of the Mystic Braves. Sweaty, overwhelmingly warm guitar riffs beat down on the models. Muttered vocals blew in and struggled to get the breathy words out as though the heat oppressed their volume. Each of his models displayed a sweet, heavy and seductive indifference as they strutted down his runway on toothpick legs.
The western aesthetic, the rebellious use of camouflage, and the loose knits all referenced the fashion of the hippies of the 60s. The word has been around. In the 40s, hipster referred to those in the know about emerging black jazz cultures. It was perverted to “hippie” in the 60s. It was reclaimed in the 90s and 2000s to reference an extra irony, too-obscure-for-you vintage style. The light seems to be bouncing around the room. The hipsters of my generation dressed from vintage shops to look like the hippies of our parents’ generation. Hedi took a photograph of that light and called it his Psych Rock collection.
YSL Runway via
Don’t dismiss Slimane for the photographic nature of his collections. What they lack in originality, they make up for in theatricality. While his recent work has not necessarily created something new, his method allows him to create a distillation of the cool that is. Walk the streets and you’ll be drinking beer. But on Hedi Slimane’s runway, they serve the hard stuff.
Saint Laurent Monogramme Studded Quilted Leather Shoulder Bag | Saint Laurent Leather & Brass Classic De Force Cuff | Saint Laurent Clous Punk Carré Bracelet | Saint Laurent “3 Passant” Buckle Bracelet
Intro Photo via YSL Twitter