We're Living in Hedi Slimane's World


If you have been trashing Hedi Slimane’s name since he began his tenure at Saint Laurent, right now is the best time of all to stop. Hedi has continually been subjected to criticism throughout most of his design career. He typically overhauls fashion houses from his first day on the job, which has never failed at pissing off critics that believe that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You’re probably still outraged about the name change and Marilyn Manson’s image being tied to Saint Laurent but just give it time. Don’t let these decisions overshadow what Hedi has planned or what he has accomplished in the past. His track record is impeccable thus far. If you look at his collections from his first stint with Saint Laurent to his Dior collections and his current Saint Laurent collections you’ll see consistency, but not consistency with the houses he designed for as much as the world that he was creating for us to understand. If you stop and look around you, you’ll see that his world is blending with ours.

Hedi’s first love is actually photography though fashion followed shortly. He excels at both and remains consistent at both. He leaves his signature on his collections and his photographs and undoubtedly influences both trades with his moody black-and-white photography and his skinny fit design that revolutionized menswear. He does not conform to what designers have done prior at fashion houses as no designer should and often times do not (If this wasn’t the case we would not see any progress in the fashion industry. The modern dandy would dress more like Beau Brummel in his heyday instead of like Kris Van Assche’s Dior Homme). He has designed for only two fashion houses, Saint Laurent and Dior, and he produced his interpretation of those houses or rather what the houses would look like in his world. He picked such powerful houses to design for so that his vision can garner a much larger audience. Writer Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian reported that Slimane and PPR Group are working to bring the house back to the forefront of fashion. There’s no better designer to appoint for such a task especially since his design influence is still evident years after his first Dior Homme collection.

Looking at this year’s Met Ball, in which the theme for the gala was “Punk Fashion” who else can come to mind in today’s age of punk fashion other than Slimane? In Riccardo Tisci’s interview with last week, he explained that his designs for Givenchy are his way of being punk. More importantly, when asked what punk is to him he says that it’s, “fighting for your rights. Not being scared of opinion. Freedom.” When Hedi Slimane became the topic of discussion he tells us that he thinks favorably of Hedi’s work saying, “…the aesthetic really belongs to him… For sure, it is something that doesn’t look like anybody else and that’s what I like.” Hedi’s aesthetic is reminiscent of the punk scene but less of the rebellion of those times and more of the music associated with it. A side of Punk Fashion has evolved and molded with glamour, which is also Slimane’s doing despite the opinions of critics and his colleagues. His ability to produce only what he wants regardless of a house’s input or critics’ jeers is more rebellious and more punk than what you may consider to be punk fashion.

Hedi has a stranglehold on the fashion industry today and most people don’t even realize it. He admitted in an interview with Hint Magazine in 2011 that he “didn’t have to design for a few years, since my design was still around, and still subject to interpretation and appropriation.” He mentioned Topman and Burberry for their use of British rock bands for ad campaigns and Balmain for “discovering stage-wear, glam-rock jackets, and tux jackets worn with skinny jeans.” The three brands picked up queues from his work with Dior. The skinny jeans you accept today he introduced in 1999. The Dior Homme you know was once Christian Dior Monsieur, but he changed the name in 2000. His collections at one time were projected to be unprofitable yet it changed menswear and more importantly, fast-fashion brands as a whole. Even the Met Gala was indirectly influenced by Hedi with their punk fashion theme. The moves Hedi makes in this creative chess game baffle and confuse, but it doesn’t mean you won’t understand it in a few years. What he is currently doing at Saint Laurent is nothing far from unusual. Hedi is combining fashion, music, and art to fit his vision of the world and the Met Ball is the perfect indication of that. The world he created for us has spilled into reality. No one man should have all that power.