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Saint Laurent Under Slimane: A Legacy?

Apr 05 2016


So it's now official. Hedi Slimane has left the once-fabled house of Saint Laurent. His replacement is a relatively unknown young Belgian designer by the name of Anthony Vaccarello.

Slimane's tenure at Saint Laurent will have been brief making any kind of assessment of his "legacy" tenuous at best. Still, that hasn't stopped the usual cast of fashion insiders, especially French fashion editors, from waxing poetic about Slimane's midas touch: "He brought street cred to luxury." "He elevated youth culture and made Saint Laurent cool again." "He brought the house of Saint Laurent back to its roots."

Far be it for me, a fashion consumer, to question the edicts of fashion's gatekeepers but that's not exactly what I saw when I looked at Slimane's Saint Laurent. Rather, I saw a forty-something designer with a fetish for teenaged boys "designing" clothing that would have been better suited for teenaged boys than for grown women with hips and breasts. Perhaps that's why his runway shows and many of his adverts featured models who looked like boys rather than women.

Moreover, can we really call what he did for Saint Laurent "designing" when it seems like virtually every single look he sent down the runway for Spring/Summer 2016 could just as easily have been pulled from Courtney Love's closet circa 1990's? Perhaps that would account for the overwhelming feeling of deja vu I so often got after viewing Slimane's runway shows. The effect was not unlike walking into Zara.

Personally, when I think of what Saint Laurent (the man, not the brand) contributed to fashion, I think of a designer who broke with tradition by introducing pret-a-porter because he believed it was more in keeping with how modern women wanted to consume fashion. I think of a man who freed women from the cumbersome process of haute couture fittings because women had better things to do than submit to multiple fittings twice her year just to be well-dressed.

I also think of a man who made trouser suits for women both fashionable and feminine thus giving women a new uniform to conquer the workplace. I think of a man who sent a virtual rainbow of diversity down the runway. Indeed, the "Saint Laurent woman" came in all skin colors and ethnicities. They were confident, beautiful and not one of them looked like they needed to be carted off to an eating disorder clinic.

By contrast, when I think of Slimane for Saint Laurent, I can't help thinking of the The Emperor's New Clothes. Some legacy.


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I'm with you. His tenure at the fabled house was (is) emblematic of our times: derivative, reductive, and banal. When they changed the name to "Saint Laurent Paris" and eschewed the distinctive YSL font, that should have been the warning sign.

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The Luxe Chronicles is a collection of interviews, profiles and musings on various aspects of the luxury industry and occasionally, a rant on our celebrity obsessed culture and the dumbing down of our collective sense of style and esthetic.

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