Yves Saint Laurent famously referenced the Ballet Russes but here in the Grand Palais, one of Paris' most (appropriately) grand settings, Hedi Slimane gave us a mechanical ballet, as the apero to his Saint Laurent womenswear debut. Cogs whirred, the suspended ceiling fragmented into panels and a series of beautifully ordered speakers/lights lowered, offering a Daft Punk edit and strobe show.
After the audio imploded into glitch, out came Julia Nobis in a huge floppy brimmed hat, a Slimanian jacket, the perfect cigarette pant and pussy bow blouse, not to the sound of unsigned indie but a rework on the blues strains of Junior Kimbrough. From then, repeat – the collection added a dichotomy of fluid contrast through floor sweeping dresses and capes, with punctuations of luminosity through pailettes, beads or crystals. House signatures of laced suede, ruffles, sheer blouses and the Saharienne occurred, perhaps most powerful belted in black leather as the potent entwining of past and present.
Maybe that electronic glitch before the swagger of blues kicked in was the notion of time shattering. In fifteen minutes it was put through a prism – and when these clothes hit Slimane's beautifully reconceptualised stores, they'll be jewel-like, suspended in mirrored infinity.
In a show of massive anticipation, the designer's return was an exercise in both bravery and perception. The Saint Laurent woman is back on the pedestal Yves placed her on, only now attendees such as Alison Mosshart, Kate Moss and Liza Thorn join icons such as Betty Catroux, who was in attendance alongside M. Bergé. Both were in rapture.
The hedonistic 70s of Saint Laurent were drawn through these witchy silhouettes, meeting parallel with the West Coast of the US today and leaving a patchouli-fragranced trail with each pencil-heeled step.
Thorn could've left the venue wearing any of these looks. And afterwards Mosshart excitedly told her friends this experience was 'the best thing ever'. At a time when fashion is mostly just clothes, particularly the type of identikit minimalism that's doing the rounds at the moment, it takes a vanguard like Slimane to come back and change the game again. Apart from an unparalleled eye for detail, his talent is in reflecting culture through his designs, his work being linked to something a lot bigger. There were plenty of women at this show that embodied the vision Slimane presented. His reign continues.
SOUNDTRACK CREDIT: SAINT LAURENT COLLECTION I / MUSIC JUNIOR KIMBROUGH (EDITED BY DAFT PUNK)