Published in the V&A Magazine’s latest issue, the elusive designer has penned a personal note revealing the musical icon’s impact on his life
When David Bowie died suddenly in January, the world lost one of its most enduring icons. One place his influence has been strongly felt is in the work of Hedi Slimane, the designer who revolutionised men’s tailoring at Yves Saint Laurent and Dior Homme, debuting skinny silhouettes that presented an alternative vision of masculinity rooted in music culture – indie kids becoming the new Adonises. Giving a rare interview with Yahoo last year on his transformation of Saint Laurent (where he has been creative director since 2012), the notoriously elusive designer spoke of the presence Bowie has had throughout his life and work. “I could recognise it and feel a connection at the time with ‘The Thin White Duke’ character of Bowie,” he said of the musician’s androgynous persona. “This is pretty much the origin of everything I did in design after that, a boy or a girl with the same silhouette.”
Now, for the first time since Bowie’s death, Slimane has paid homage to the hero in the form of a short piece penned for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s V&A Magazine. After being invited to contribute by the publication’s editor, the designer and photographer is believed to have composed the touching piece one night after fittings for the recent Saint Laurent at the Palladium show. The article is printed alongside a photograph – from Slimane’s own archives – of one of Bowie’s iconic jackets, taken around the time of the V&A’s phenomenal David Bowie Is exhibition in 2013. Read the tribute exclusively below, and buy your copy of V&A Magazine here.
I open my birthday present and I meet David for the first time, at the age of seven.
David Live, recorded in Philadelphia one year before, is about to change my life.
My sister’s best friend, Veronique Jamin, puts the vinyl on my low-fi turntable.
Veronique is fifteen, the prettiest thing. She wears a black vinyl jumpsuit and puts blue glitter
on her eyes.
She plays and sings along: Aladdin Sane.
I am used to seeing her dancing, throwing back her beautiful hair, but this time it’s different.
This is about Bowie.
I lie down on the bed and observe the double album cover, the powder-blue suspended suit
of Freddie Burretti. The pale figure, the heroic posture, the slick electric hair.
I look at David. I am not quite sure if it is a boy or a girl.
I don’t care. I am the same anyway.
From this day, 5 July 1975, Bowie will protect me.
8 June 1983. Hippodrome d’Auteuil. My first concert.
There are about 100,000 people. I am excited and scared at the same time by the raw energy
of the crowd.
I will never forget how I felt that day.
I became a teenager when I walked into that venue.
David takes the stage: The Jean Genie.
100,000 girls and boys like an ocean under a storm.
Modern Love, and it’s over. I will never be the same.
My life was ahead of me.
David died and left us alone.
I lost my childhood, I lost my youth.
Nothing will ever be the same.