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Everything leading up to the Saint Laurent show said Paris, despite the fashion house's recent decision to excise "Yves" from its name, arguably the most iconicly Parisian part of it all. The Grand Palais' soaring ceilings, the thumping bass as the lights slowly grew from dim to blazing brightness, and the speakers dropping in like looming shadows overhead all recalled a sense of dramatic theater (the pleasure of looking, listening) that would not have been out of place in Le Palace, the Parisian nightclub Roland Barthes had famously championed.
But the clothes were another story. Maybe the music already gave it away — the electro had shifted to a twangy, bluesy number by Junior Kimbrough — and suddenly, we were no longer on the Champs-Élysées. Sure, the famous Le Smoking silhouette was still there, but this time, they came paired with wide-brimmed hats that would not have been out of place in a Wild West brawl. Did we hear tumbleweed rolling down the aisle when a sexy suede number came down the runway, complete with sashaying, golden fringe? Or, was that just a shiver down our own spine caused by delight? Surprise? Confusion?
The clothes were sexy — no doubt about that. They were the kind of items Marianne Faithfull would've plucked from her own closet to seduce a Stone — sequined jackets, leather pants, corset tops, black lace. Somewhere, Stevie Nicks was calling, and Alexander Wang (who was nestled in the front row) was taking notes for his next show. Hedi Slimane had certainly set the tone for his new tenure at the house — modernity with drama and the ability to interest, to confound. Barthes would be proud.
Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo