Among those of us who spend our days looking at runways, the recent incarnation of Saint Laurent, with controversial designer Hedi Slimane at the helm, is a really love-it-or-hate-it affair. I, for one, have been apathetic about it at best. I don't disagree with the ranks who suggest most of the recent seasons' styles could be found in any thrift shop — and certainly for less than $4,000 a tea dress. It was nice, sure, but it wasn't fashion.
I wasn’t in Paris this season, and I first saw the new collection like most people: on Instagram. But, as I scrolled through my feed this time, something was different; I finally got it!
Since Slimane was named creative director in 2012 and changed YSL to Saint Laurent, the lines struck me (particularly as a Brit) as a lazy copy of Rolling Stones' girlfriends. Yves himself was dressing icons like Bianca Jagger back in the day, but the modern Saint Laurent has felt more like how I had dressed in the past. At age 15. With thrift-store bin Lurex tops, cut-off daisy dukes, and cherry-print dresses, last season recalled Glastonbury circa 2001. If nothing else, it reminded me that there are some things that will never be okay for anyone older than age 12.
This season, though, we saw a swap of wannabe "rock and roll" calling cards for actual bad-girl references. This Saint Laurent woman was a New Wave fan girl with Siouxsie Sioux makeup. The '80s-style dresses were short, and the slits were high, and worn with fishnets, leather, and attitude. There was something a little underdog-ish about them but still completely irreverent and cool. The styling gave me a reason to give everything a closer look.
So, I did. I really examined the clothes — each and every item — and realized they are beautiful, well done, and mostly comprised of classics that will always be on-trend. You might not consider a sparkly mini or a leather jacket as just as traditional as a trench or cashmere cardigan, but I'll be wearing those until I'm ancient. I still quite don’t know why Hedi's work has been such a runaway commercial success (it’s so expensive), but when the jaded scales fell from my eyes and I properly looked at the pieces in the collection, I got what he was doing.
The coats in particular are things I want to sell my car in exchange for — the type of coats you should wear with a cigarette and scowl outside of a too-cool concert in London. The type of coat that makes you stand out not as a street style peacock but just as a really bloody cool cat. The key is it’s cheap-chic but done in a very expensive way, which, I think I finally understand, has been Slimane’s satire about modern luxury all this time.