a couture masterpiece from hedi slimane at saint laurent
Hedi Slimane's intimate salon presentation for Saint Laurent was an exquisite love letter to the house.
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans
Whispers that Hedi Slimane is departing Saint Laurent have been rippling through the fashion industry for a while now. His autumn/winter 16 men's collection, shown at the Palladium in LA in February, was widely interpreted by the press to be his swan-song. A suspicion fuelled by the notoriously shy designer's shock decision to take a post show bow. Despite rumours recently gaining momentum, last night's intimate salon show for select editors and close friends of the house proved that this show is not over just yet.
Shown in the bright white splendour of l'Hôtel Sénecterre -- the meticulously renovated 17th century Saint Germain mansion chosen by Hedi as the new Saint Laurent couture house -- the presentation was a refreshingly intimate, stripped back affair. Gone were the skinny rock kids on the front row, the elaborate stage sets, the pounding music and the cavernous, pitch black, womb like venues that Hedi's Saint Laurent has become famous for. And in it's place a sophisticated haute couture salon. There were no sections or seat numbers. Instead, each guest's name was elegantly engraved onto a gold plaque, set within a black ballroom chair, with a plush black velvet cushion. Editors were respectfully asked to turn their phones off, so the only sounds were the cameras' shutters snapping the models as they tackled the precariously steep stairs and Bénédicte de Ginestous' genteel voice calling out the look numbers, just as she had done for Yves Saint Laurent's couture collections from 1977 to 2002.
Simply titled La Collection de Paris, the 42 looks paid homage to the codes of the house, whilst remaining ferociously loyal to Hedi's skinny rock 'n' roll aesthetic. There were hyper elegant le smoking jackets with plunging necklines and pinched shoulders, pouf skirts, mini skirts slashed inches below the waist and 80s inspired sequin dresses that seductively cocooned the body like a second skin; their ruffled shoulders exaggerated dramatically into sculptural works of art. Pink and black sequinned catsuits, set off by sky high heels and wide belts clinching tiny waists added a decadent glam rock air. In the close proximity of the salon environment - without the distraction of music or lights - the clothes shone like objects of pure beauty.
Whether it was Hedi's final farewell to the house, or Saint Laurent's first anticipated haute couture collection still remains to be seen. But perhaps it doesn't matter. That evening it was all about the clothes. The beauty with which Hedi shapes his silhouette to the body, and the desirability of his aesthetic makes him -- in my opinion -- one of the greatest designers of our generation. As the show closed on a voluminous red fur jacket, cut into a torso-spanning heart from behind, I think we were all forced to ask ourselves what did it mean? Was it an Instagram friendly finale, or a playful gesture on a farewell kiss? Only time will tell...
Text Holly Shackleton
Photography Jason Lloyd Evans