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From the moment he took the helm, Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent has catered to the bad girls — with bank rolls, of course. With acres of leather, references to (more or less) every musical subculture ever, and enough black to make a Ramone giddy, Slimane's spring '14 show solidified his allegiance to the smoking-in-the-girl's-room crowd.
A traditional spring collection this was not — but then Slimane's Saint Laurent girl has always been a creature of the night who doesn't do white. Darkly glam evening wear was the name of the game: Think glitzy, lurex, disco dresses with massive shoulder poufs and leopard-print, sequin miniskirts. The beauty mood was similarly badass: Slimane's girl-gang army stomped the runway in pouts, Joan Jett shags, and eyeliner thick as a teddy girl typist's.
But, Slimane's too smart to do straight-up retro. The collection channeled gum-snapping '60s tough girls and '80s post-punk princesses often in the same garment, with period details cleverly culled from each, like the mod-ish slim suits with skinny ties that sported unexpectedly strong, Working Girl shoulders. Slimane's been criticized for setting up permanent camp in his retro rock-'n'-roll obsessions, but look closer: There's artful era clash going on here.
Amidst all the CBGBs '79 finery, some unmistakably wearable, out-of-the-park hits emerged: a cropped, black leather jacket deserving of grail status; beautifully layered, slinky, silk dresses that'll be snapped up by party girls from São Paolo to St. Petersburg. Here, too, are echoes of Yves: The legendary lip pattern that first appeared in 1969, the riffs on Le Smoking, now newly shrunken and paired with dainty Debbie Harry heels.
Let's be honest: These subtle flashes of the house DNA may not quiet the naysayers who accuse Slimane of steering the brand too far from its roots. But, we appreciate that Slimane's not content to design another (admittedly stunning) silk pantsuit. He represents a fascinating evolution for the house known as the standard bearer of bourgeois good taste and beauty. In a fashion world that's currently obsessed with clean, sporty looks, we're glad Slimane's still the bad boy under the bleachers.