10 things we learned about hedi slimane today

In a rare interview, the Saint Laurent creative director opened up about (almost) everything. Here’s what we know about one of this generation’s most exciting design talents.

by Emily Manning
12 August 2015, 10:20pm

In the three years since he was appointed to the helm of Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane's reformation of the storied French house has proven itself a commercial and creative success. In a rare, lengthy interview with Dirk Standen published this morning on Yahoo! Style, the press adverse designer discussed his professional approach, private life, and plans for Saint Laurent's future. While the full story is worth the read, here are our top 10 takeaways.

He wasn't sweating early criticism: Although most critics of Saint Laurent's 2012 rebranding were unaware that the change actually harkened back to the house's original name, Hedi was still accused of fashion blasphemy. While he was initially surprised by the criticism, it ultimately made his determination stronger: "If there is no reaction, it means nobody cares. If nobody cares, then we have a problem."

In fact, he's doing exactly what Yves did: The name scandal subsided, but critics still accuse Slimane's rock-and-roll references of violating the founder's elegant vision. But Hedi contends: "Yves Saint Laurent invented the idea to play with elements or proportions of past decades in his collections...but it was always in the end about his own time and a creation of its own, the attitude of the moment, the polaroid of a generation."

Yves even came to his first Dior show: YSL co-founder Pierre Berge tapped a young Slimane for mens collections back in 96. Five years later, Yves himself would sit in attendance at Slimane's 01 Dior Homme debut: "Pierre had called me the day before to let me know Yves wanted to come. The day of the show it was the only thing I could think about and that mattered to me."

He turned childhood bullying into a lasting impact: Turns out that Hedi's signature skinny silhouette stems from the bullying and homophobia he experienced as a teen: "Many in high school, or in my family, were attempting to make me feel I was half a man because I was lean," Slimane said. "I would turn to my music heroes, and this was comforting. They looked the same and I wanted to do everything to be like them, and not hide myself in baggy clothes to avoid negative comments."

His photography isn't just for campaigns: Following his departure from Dior Homme in 07, Hedi left design all together to focus his energies on photography. Photography also informs his Saint Laurent designs: "Following my photography...I was looking for imperfections, flaws or vulnerabilities translated into an 'analog' design."

He's a man of faith: Speaking for the first time about his upbringing, Slimane stated that he was brought up in the church: "My mother also raised me as a Christian, and even if I never talk about it, my faith, which was never imposed upon me, is really important in my life. It is present in the way I do things, or care about things. It gives me a sense of comfort, and strength."

He actually likes blogs...: "I like the concept of blogs, and the multiplicity of voices, the global discussion. The way it has forced the establishment to change its perspective," he said.

...But the verdict is still out on social media: While Hedi noted the impact social media has made on the fashion industry, he wasn't exactly singing its praises like selfie snapping Balmain creative director Olivier Rousting or condemning it like Phoebe Philo. But one thing's for sure: "The fashion industry has not caught up to the current pace of social media."

In another life, he could have been a record exec: Slimane has mined youth subcultures for fresh talents, making campaign stars of Sunflower Bean and The Garden twins. But rock stars aren't merely collected as lifeless muses: "original soundtracks [commissioned for] the last 15 years [of fashion shows] end up being the first track of an upcoming album for lots of the bands I worked with."

But in the end, he's still driven by discovery: "Searching for new music, unspoiled talents, and the excitement of youth. There is nothing to be jaded about...you need to be curious and open to new things." 


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

Hedi Slimane
Saint Laurent
Yves Saint Laurent