Hedi Slimane remains as polarizing a subject in Paris as health care is in the United States. Some think he’s brilliant, others are convinced he’s over-rated. Saint Laurent is looking at increased sales numbers since his arrival. Investors are worried whether his approach is sustainable. Life is obviously not easy for Hedi Slimane.
Without question, the presentation Slimane put on the runway, which he produced, was an incredible thing to watch. Large triangles of light loomed over the catwalk creating intricate geometric patterns as they moved from one position to another. Watching the display right before the lights came up on the catwalk, it was difficult to not be amazed. One could only hope that perhaps that geometric structure might play a part in the clothes being shown.
Instead, for the third season in a row, Slimane went back to the YSL catalog, this time to the 80s, and sent down only slightly revised versions of the tuxedo, the biker jacket, the black trench, the lip print, and disco-styled glitter. This was a collection that Debbie Harry would have loved 30 years ago, but would likely turn her back on now. Dresses were so very short and so very tight that even the best of models, such as Sam Rollinson and Edie Campbell, had difficulty achieving full stride. Many of the models’ walks noticeably suffered under the constraint.
So, where does this leave Hedi and Saint Laurent? If one is under the age of 25, then perhaps this line is attractive because women in that age group have never seen such pieces before, except maybe in their mothers’ closets. Under 25 represents a huge retail market, right? Normally, yes, but how many 25-year-olds do you know with the income or credit rating to drop four figures on a single dress? Say good-bye to 98 percent of that market. Women over 25 either still have the styles in their closet from the first time around, or have matured enough as to not find them remotely attractive. There’s nothing in this collection they’re likely to want or need.
See the problem? YSL’s investors have reason to be concerned.
Sure, no one wants Slimane to totally ignore the Yves Saint Laurent legacy, but we’ve endured quite enough historical rehashing. Time for Hedi to prove he really does know what he’s doing.