The Menswear Spring 2016 shows have officially ended. One highlight of the menswear collections was Saint Laurent. It wasn’t a highlight, because of great design or references that were used in the collection. It was a highlight, because it left me wondering, how could such an historic and significant fashion
house remain so stagnant? The answer is Hedi Slimane.
Slimane became the Creative Director at Yves Saint Laurent (now just Saint Laurent) in 2012. He replaced Stefano Pilati, who had been the brands Creative Director since 2004. Once Slimane took over Saint Laurent it could be suggested that it has remained somewhat lackluster in designs and quite often repetitive. The reviews for Saint Laurent have been somewhat mixed, however, when critics are negative about it, they are very negative and disapproving. “In terms of design, the clothes held considerably less value than a box of Saint Laurent labels. Without the label attached to them, Mr. Slimane’s grunge dresses wouldn’t attract interest — because they’re not special. But a box of labels is worth a million,” said fashion critic Cathy Horyn.
To say that Slimane’s grunge dresses aren’t special is subjective. Although, one thing is for sure is those grunge dresses are boring. Since Slimane took over Saint Laurent his collections have been about two things: Rock-and-Roll and Youth culture. There is nothing wrong with having an interest in that, but when each collection looks like it could’ve been the previous collection there’s a problem. After all, fashion is about change and growth that reflects the times, not looking back and being nostalgic about the past. Slimane’s collections for Saint Laurent always show the same things: skinny pants or jeans, baby doll dresses, leather or bomber jackets, and skinny ties.
Despite the repetitive nature of Slimane’s designs (I’d say he’s more of a stylist than designer), the sales for Saint Laurent are up more than 20% percent so far in 2015. The critics may be wary of what Slimane is doing for Saint Laurent, but the consumer certainly isn’t. Hedi Slimane may not be the best designer, but what he is good at is allowing people to dream, and bringing them into a grunge rock-n-roll world. What he’s done at Saint Laurent shows people, sure, you may not be able to be a rock star in a cool band, but at least you can dress like one. Despite the fact that Slimane is not doing anything new or thought provoking, he is creating his own groupies, style tribes, and group of dreamers. That, too, is important.