Saint Laurent Fall 2013- The Deconstruction Of A Legendary Fashion House, into Mediocrity

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New York“Well everyone has expressed my shock and horreur at seeing YSL mangled in this way. I thought the previous collection was a bit of a commercial rehash but this one seems like a very expensive exercise in navel gazing.I can’t imagine someone having been hired to do this job get it so wrong – but then M. Slimane would not be the first designer who confuses his client’s brand identity with his own – wishful thinking perhaps. In the meantime Hermes is going to be laughing all the way to the bank – their collection was elegant ( suddenly it seems so modern to be elegant) timeless and about quality.”

“I believe Ms.Horyn did not attend the show…Mr.Wilson covered it.I think it is quite chic of her not to even utter one word on this dreadful collection…sometimes silence is so much stronger than words!”

” Heidi Slimane is a fashion snob who thinks of himself as a fashion God. Looks like he just bought these pieces from the LA thrift stores and salvation army and cut them with similar fabrics from some expensive Italian mills.”

“I always thought Stefano Pilati did a great job at YSL, as he did a lot of work under TF. This collection is a bloody disaster. Time for him to leave LA for Paris!”

“That’s what people are forgetting… YSL had IDEAS behind all his ‘rebellion’. Great ones at that. He wasn’t just posing as a rockstar. Where’s Mr. Slimane’s ideas? All I see is re-worked Anna Sui. And it was a different time. High fashion needed to come down to the street back then…but, mission accomplished! Several decades ago, in fact. The only way fashion could ever get MORE ‘street’ is if it went six feet under.”

“The real show is tomorrow at 10:30,” another editor said.

“I feel like he’s playing a huge joke on the entire fashion industry,” one more said.

“Don’t underestimate her,” sassed the editor of an indie European fashion magazine, the her being a him.

“It’s haute couture made grunge,” Kirsten Dunst said. “It’s very L.A.”

These are just a few of the comments that I have heard coming from fashion insiders about the current Saint Laurent Collection.

Suffice it to say, the collection shown Monday night by Hedi Slimane, his second women’s ready-to-wear since taking over the house of Yves Saint Laurent label (which he renamed Saint Laurent after establishing his design studio in Los Angeles, rather than Paris), will be as divisive as his first. The scene was roughly the same, perhaps a bit friendlier and inclusive of more editors, but not all of them. Guests took their seats in a darkened gallery, straining to see the famous people. Pierre Bergé came with Betty Catroux, Ms. Dunst with Garrett Hedlund, Jamie Hince with Alison Mosshart and Sky Ferreira. Jessica Chastain, who appears in YSL fragrance ads, arrived in a bright red dress.

Mr. Slimane’s first collection was a tribute to California boho chic, with long flowing dresses, caftans and floppy hats. His second was also rooted in California, this time looking at the aesthetic of grunge, namely Courtney Love baby doll dresses under Kurt Cobain flannel shirts, set to a loud “Tidal Wave 13” by Thee Oh Sees. The dresses were universally short, often black leather minis, worn with fishnet body stockings studded with crystals and Mr. Slimane’s version of a black combat boot, covered with small metal spikes. A whole army of black leather dresses closed the show.

 Many editors present did not appear to be in love with the concept, but there were many pieces that looked commercially lucrative at the same time, like fuzzy tartan cardigans, a black tuxedo jacket, an oversize sparkly black cable-knit sweater, a gray duffel coat and another take on the gold sparkly cardigan jacket. The connection of grunge to Mr. Saint Laurent was less clear, though he did once produce a fragrance called Baby Doll, and a pink fur coat in Mr. Slimane’s show seemed a nod to a famous fox coat design of the early 1970s called the “chubby.”

Well, now that we have that out of the way, lets all  get constructive and try to save YSL from its current Design Dictator,…..er Director.  But before we do this, let us bow our heads in remembrance of what YSL once was.

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Now that we have finished wiping our tears after weeping about the complete and utter destruction of a fabulous fashion legacy, let us began to understand why.

Money, Greed,Ignorance, and Arrogance.

It all started one day when I had heard through the fashion grape vine that Mr. Slimane was rebranding Yves Saint Laurent into simply Saint Laurent. When I heard this I distinctly remembered a silent anger boiling in my ‘fashion soul’. How dare he try to ‘scrape clean’ a legacy that is synonymous across this world for elegance,beauty, and fashion refinement, as if he was scraping the barnacles off of the hull of one his well heeled friend’s yacht.

…curiously no one said anything, and I expected as much.

Fast forward to this “visual colostomy bag” of a show and now I am glad , in a strange way, that our dear Yves was not attached to this ‘collection’.  To say that I HATE the Fall 2013 Looks from Saint Laurent is an exercise in cordial restraint. Let me say this, if I where to sit down with Mr. Slimane, It would NOT be to congratulate him, but instead, in silence, I would lead him to the design studio, and we would began to sketch in silence. A silence that is so deafening, so profound that he would began to understand what damage he has done to this valuable fashion institution. I would then hand over my sketches to him, many of them would be a modern stylings,designs based on layered chiffons , intensely tailored suits, beautiful Boucle’ beaded jackets, ethereal gowns and party dresses that seemed as if the came from another world. Structured pants,beautifully cut leathers used only as accent fabrications, all under the RESPECTFUL homage of Yves and the house he created with his brilliant talent so many years ago. This is what a designer does when he is hired to design for an established design house, he goes back to the vaults, studies the master, collaborating in spirit with what has come before he was born, then create something new and beautiful BASED on this collaboration. This process is spiritual, its beautiful, but one is to NEVER deviate from it because its a sacred form of respect and reverence for what has come before you.

Mr. Slimane, where is your respect, why were you allowed to do this?

You may have noticed, I don’t have any stills from the recent show. My answer to that is that they don’t belong here, just as what walked down the runway does NOT belong under the label of YVES Saint Laurent.

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15 responses »

  1. I have tears in my eyes, your words have hit close to my heart. This current showing was very wrong for YSL but I do not really think they care at all

  2. Seaki, your fangs are showing. Are you sure you are a vegan, because you just devoured a designer for dinner? OUCH!

  3. I come to this via LinkedIN. I appreciate your article! I have studied Haute Couture in Paris and trained and interned at YSL and worked worldwide as Fashion, Uniform and Interior Designer.
    I recall a day at school in Paris YSL visited looked over my shoulder. I was watercolouring an illustration of a couture gown in chiffon. He said “C’est bien vivez votre vie en couleur” (Good, live your life in colours) it stuck in my mind all my life. When Mr. Yves Saint Laurent passed I discovered pictures of his private home in north Africa. And without ever having seen it I had painted our home on the other tip of Southern Africa. http://www.flickr.com/photos/vicarious1/6887249476/in/photostream
    He was a charismatic gentle man who made me appreciated the full meaning of the process of artistic silence. He was all the opposite of the now “celeb” ranking Designers.
    My earliest work was manager for YSL Rive Gauche in Europe. I felt I was blessed and next started a couture salon right next to his store. http://smu.gs/ZrRnuJ
    I am also sadden in the guillotining post mortum of the famous “Y”. But then the clothes that now are sold under his name are NOT reflecting the slightest of his spectrum so maybe it is better that they not carry his real name.
    I have lady friends who still wear now some of his pant suits and tuxedos and friends are gasping and the “Where did you get that it’s gorgeous” is what those not in the know say.

    • This brings tears to my eyes. I met Mr. Laurent many times, sometimes in social settings, sometimes in business settings, but he was always warm,witty and lovely to behold. Thank you for relating your experience with one of the most talented fashion designers the world has ever seen. As far as vintage Yves Saint Laurent, you brought up a great point. TRUE fashion genius is TIMELESS, it looked good then, it looks even better now, and will shine eve brighter in the future. My mother has several of his summer suits that she bought when she was modeling in Europe and pulls them out for holiday, periodically. The gushing compliments she gets are overwhelming, even though the suits are older than I am!

  4. The problem with Heidi Slimane is that he feels that he is smarter than everyone in the company. He has done all he can to distance himself from YSL, so far as not even working onsite or even in the same country of the companies origins. There is wealth of resources at his disposal, sewers, endless fabric resource libraries, articulate archives, and a support staff at his beck and call, but he prefers to remain in America as he says America will inspire his imagination. Hopefully a few people in the organization will see this feature, as I will personally send it to them. I like how you described what you would do and the layout of product sounds lovely, a far cry from what was shown.

  5. You do not know Heidi Slimane and how hard he works to meet dead lines. He is a very hard working designer and photographer and has more talent in his bumhole than you have in your whole life. Piss Off! How dare you attack him!

    • Sure, it takes TONS of talent taking copious amounts of drugs, partying, and photographing your spaced out dope fiend buddies,…then calling it fine art. OHHHH, but I guess all of this was done to ” manipulate the media and further forge his reputation within the industry”, I feel like vomiting. Spare me, a talentless hack is just that, a talentless hack. To the author of this article, I love your small window into what you would do for YSL, they should hire you. It cant be any worse than what has all ready been done.

    • Re working hard and meeting deadlines: LOL! So what designer does not meet these simple qualifications? Heidi is not exceptional in that regard. He has created nothing unique, he is just a hired hand/a hack who was assigned by the corporation to re-invent the house of YSL…he has done nothing by himself, he has no POV and is just a corporate hack who is currently destroying the house of the King of Fashion YSL. Don’t lie to your eyes, he is nothing special.

      • As per Wikipedia: What shocks me the utmost is that the house of YSL would agree to be ruled by an Artistic Director and I quote as stated: ” He will base himself in his creative studio in
        Los Angeles, rather than the brand’s Parisian headquarters.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedi_Slimane

        A lover of the Berlin “Punk Rock Scene”
        http://www.focus.de/kultur/leben/modernes-leben-die-dunklen-seiten-des-hedi-s-_aid_196677.html

        Reading through his career run it isn’t made of anything that calls for grand reverence.
        I would not be surprised to see him changing cap again sooner than later

        The main problem is, that figures like these are chosen by FINANCIERS who wear grey and black suits most of the time. I have assisted myself so many times in my career the choice of by money over taste, style and pure creativity just by men who know that MONEY TALKS..like the Cantonese Hong Kong business men say “MO CHIN, MO TA KIN” (No money No talk) and that rule works very well worldwide and even more in the the paradise of Haute Couture
        It will remain a “debacle” for ever money ruling the Arts.

        There are MANY who have way more credentials in leading YSL but, hey sadly they do not have the right, allow me to say sarcastically “finger licking” connection as that is what it takes to get the job.
        I was a Laureat of the SAGA MINK Design contest in Paris between three thousand contestants worldwide, price remittance by “Mme Gres in person” ( that is a life event) at the Hotel Meurice Paris. And? It resulted in X offres to come and spend the week end in “Country Estates of the well and known Fur Designers Gods like Frederic Castet etc. to do I guess much more than “finger licking”
        I feel proud today that I stuck to my pride and instead and took a manager Position for YSL.

  6. I’m sorry to say that Heidi slimane seems to be lost.. maybe he forgot for who is designig for, “grunge style” is not what we want to see in Saint Laurent collections.. Is not what we want to buy either.. It is just so sad.

  7. Interesting. It occurs to me that Mr. Saint Laurent is a product of his generation… No respect or tact when it comes to remembering what came before him.

  8. Totally agree with your post! Waiting to see how long it takes to replace Hedi Slimane. Appalling collection.

  9. Thank you for saying what is so obvious to so many. The house of YSL is now just a hollow shell for an huge ego who has done nothing of importance. What is the difference between the current YSL look and Rachel Zoe? Nothing…..which says it all and makes me very sad. I miss YSL terribly and all this nonsense & posing makes my fashion blood boil. Halston used to say never forget that the clients are the carriage trade and the designer , no matter how successful still works for them…..Hedi pay attention to the advice of the truly greats who went before you, you might learn something about finesse & image.

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