Stepping away for a few hours after the Saint Laurent show seemed like a good idea. I’m not shy about the fact I’m not a huge fan of Hedi Slimane, but so many people I know love him and his work so I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt by not going with my initial reaction. This spring/summer collection was huge, 55 looks, so there was a certain amount of eye fatigue going on as well. In a setting that invoked nighttime in Hollywood, I wasn’t the only one seen yawning if for no other reason than the fact that by the time the show actually started, most people had been running from show to show for 14 hours or more. Making a good impression under those circumstances is difficult.
My opinion after sleeping on it: there’s still nothing really new about this season’s Saint Laurent collection, but perhaps that’s acceptable. What’s going to sell this collection are the prints and the accessories. Already, the cherry print one-shouldered dress that led the show is making the run of social media as the icon for the season. Platform sandals, a strong trend for next spring, are almost certain to be a best seller. Donna Jordan turbans got a lot of reaction as well. That’s more than enough to get women in the door to buy the clothes.
Hedi seems to fight with himself at times over whether to take a collection luxe, which is the brand’s reputation, or more street, which is more popular. Pops of fur and extremely detailed firework embroidery are going to keep prices in the luxe range for sure. At the same time, cheap black stockings, camo jackets, and denim cut-off shorts look more like something dug from the bottom of the laundry pile. As always, there’s plenty of skin-tight leather and nearly-sheer tops with plunging necklines, but there is also intricate beadwork and sequined detailing.
Everything plays to a darker side, despite the fact many of the prints play with bright colors. Blacks and navy blues are a background or accessory for everything. A bright red dress with white polka dots gets paired with a black leather bikers jacket. A purple star print dress gets tossed under a snakeskin jacket with black highlights. Hedi uses the dark color to create a false sense of walking the edge, which keeps his young audience thinking they’re more “street” and “alternative” than they actually are.
Without question, Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent panders to a 20-something trust fund crowd that thinks spending $2500 on a fringed leather jacket makes them cool. I’m still frustrated by the manner in which Slimane seems to have tossed the house’s history of luxury and elegance into the trash. Putting a high price tag and the YSL brand on a piece of clothing doesn’t make it luxury, but it does make it sell well to a generation than can’t tell the difference. As long as Slimane is making money, he’s good, right?
Some days I’m just too old for this nonsense.
Photo credit: Gianni Pucci