Hedi Slimane shakes institutional Paris with a collection of electricity and vigour, to a soundtrack by Thee Oh Sees
Consider what's been so exciting about menswear over the last decade – and this designer has caused a seismic shift in that – and you'll arrive at youth. Consider what's exciting about contemporary womenswear and you'll stumble across everything but. There's an awkward double standard in the industry.
No longer. For Hedi Slimane's second Saint Laurent womenswear catwalk, the motive was clear – and gloriously discordant from the first look, with Hanne Gaby stepping out in a shimmering black and gold number, mohair cardi thrown perilously over the top. To the sound of Thee Oh Sees loopy fuzz rock, Summer's LA witches dissolved to sand and hit the breeze in a carefree racket.
This collection saw Slimane's girl become younger, in tandem with his menswear vision of a sepulchral beauty – both intellectual and aesthetic. As Slimane did for menswear culture, he's now proposing a joyride for the fairer sex who don't see themselves in any of the international runway offerings.
How very YSL, as Monsieur Saint Laurent liberated women with a wardrobe for all facets of their (complex) character. No doubt the narks will be hung up on how young, sexy, gutsy and Cali Grunge it all was – a brilliant thing – but once they've got over spilling their cocoa and had a second look they'll see the immaculate leather trenches, cabans and a series of other transcendental 'always and forever' house signatures in the mix. There was a pink fox chubby in this parade of fishnets and crystal-studded bodysuits which referenced Monsieur Yves' notorious Spring/Summer 1971 collection. That too ruffled as many feathers as it nourished. There was an electric parallel: here is a designer speaking to a tribe otherwise ignored.
It was Odiele's second look that really did it, with swagger unlike any time you'll have seen her, in a couture dress with red flannel shirt flailing off her shoulders. Those stomp-friendly biker boots gave her a touch of the invincible, making tottery high heels look, well, old.
That this show happened two days after the announcement the Saint Laurent atelier was to return to the Rive Gauche, in the iconic 7th, was something to revel in, the latest installment of Slimane's strategy in realigning the Maison to the principals of its founder.
What a privilege to be in Paris at the Grand Palais at night, seeing a collection that barges the current (anti-) zeitgeist of turgid, 'minimal', personality-optional dressing out the way. Expression is not a dirty word and the premise of a generation gap serves to make it all the more alluring. Bring. It. On.
Black and white photography courtesy of Saint Laurent
Soundtrack by Thee Oh Sees, John Dwyer's ever-evolving pop-folk psychedelic group, recorded for Saint Laurent on the road in Asia and Australia
Models pictured: Sam Rollinson-@SamRollinson, Linn Arvidsson-@Linn_Arvidsson, Lindsey Wixson-@lindseywixson, Edie Campbell-@ebcampbell, Hanne Gaby Odiele-@hannegabysays, Meghan Collison-@MeghanCollison, Cara Delevingne-@Caradelevingne, Grace Hartzel-@Gracie2477, Suvi Koponen-@SuviKoponen, Catherine McNeil-@MeowcatMccat