hedi slimane on the new york icons fighting conservatism through ‘artistic activism’

The legendary photographer and designer re-emerges after his departure from Saint Laurent. He describes the spirit behind his new monochrome portfolio of NY artists, and discusses his future in fashion.

by Charlotte Gush
12 January 2017, 1:10pm

Hedi Slimane is back! The famed French visionary departed his creative director position at Saint Laurent in late March 2016. Since then, we haven't heard much from the iconic purveyor of skinny jeans, other than a few tweets about his legal wrangle with the French maison and his use of the YSL logo, until now. Hedi has returned with a "New York Diary," a signature black and white photography portfolio of his favorite NY musicians and artists, including Kembra Pfahler, Thurston Moore, Eileen Myles, Lydia Lunch, Genesis P-Orridge, James Chance, Martin Rev of Suicide, Michael D'Addario of The Lemon Twigs, Dani Miller of Surfbort and more, for V Magazine. He spoke about the project with The New York Times.

Describing No Wave icon James Chance, Slimane says he "is such a talented musician," explaining that, "The consistency and sincerity of his work, unaffected, is extremely comforting to me. This is a million miles away from social media culture. He or other artists in the photographic essay might be unknown to the general public, however they genuinely embody a sense of New York, a living energy and pulse that seems vulnerable and precious to me, let alone today."

"This legendary community could, more than ever, inspire upcoming generations of artists and prevail," Slimane continues: "A creative redemption from current conservatism, an inner sense of artistic 'activism' in New York re-enacted."

Speaking about his history with and affection for the Big Apple, Slimane says, "I came to New York the first time in 1989. Manhattan was like nowhere else: artistically vibrant, unapologetically radical. I loved the spirit of it, the freedom and gritty flamboyance of the streets and clubs of New York, the sense of uniqueness."

On his dual creative careers, Slimane says he is equally fond of both fashion and photography, and that while he hasn't shot a fashion campaign since leaving Saint Laurent, his fashion career should not be considered over. "Naturally, photography will always be there, however I never intended to stop designing. I never said I will stop designing in the future." He does, however, continue to rule out a fashion house under his own name, saying, "My own name was always off limits, entirely dedicated to photography. It is a necessity for me, and reasonable, to create clear, legitimate and protective creative territories and boundaries."


Text Charlotte Gush
Artwork Dani Tull
[The Livin' Loud Issue, No. 311, Pre-Spring 2011]

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