Like many of us, I was so mired in the "tradition" that the name, Yves Saint-Laurent, represented I forgot that Yves, himself, was a trend-setter. The designer, among other things, saved the House of Dior from financial ruin with his novel "trapeze dress" in 1957, credited for bringing new life to the dying couture business during the 1960s, and cultivating the prestige of ready-to-wear (pret-a-porter).
This is ground-breaking stuff and not much different from the energetic collections Saint-Laurent's Creative Director, Hedi Slimane has shown on the Paris runways since announcing the brand's name change. Slimane with his bold name-change move simply serves to remind us that fashion is about the "Now" and the "Now" more often than not requires a reinvention in order to stay relevant to the current of the times. This idea certainly must have also grabbed hold with PPR, globally renowned heritage luxury group and parent company of Saint Laurent Paris, who recently announced the company's name change to Kering. So a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet? Maybe, but in fashion, new names typically mean a new attitude. In the case of Saint-Laurent Paris, whatever it smells "or" looks like...I'm personally loving it!
Slimane's Spring and Fall 2013 looks have a lot of references to the "heyday" of the Saint-Laurent fashion house. In reference to Slimane's Spring 2013 collection, the runway show featured rock-n-roll bohemian influences with slim-fitting, skinny pants; full, billowy chiffon maxi-dresses worn with capes; floppy bows with big brimmed floppy hats; safari-influence; and menswear inspired short tailored jackets.
In Hedi's Fall 2013 runway collection which is decidedly influenced by the 1990s grunge movement (which may have been a mistake as luxury buyers "hate" grunge and most of you already know my stance on designer grunge), the designer continues to remain true to the tradition of Yves Saint-Laurent's vision which was always closely connected to the mainstream culture. Saint-Laurent was a jet-setter who spent much of his leisure time dancing and socializing in popular nightclubs like Studio 54 and his designs reflected the worldly lifestyle of of his loyal clients, many of whom were musicians and entertainers.
Slimane's black and white photographs of these particular musicians is simply another example of Slimane's savvy creativity, understanding of the YSL legacy, and sense of relevancy which will continue to bring attention and success to this great brand. Hedi is creating a very specific, defined customer. One who, like the traditional YSL patron, is connected to worldly pursuits, popular culture, and of course, music.
Slimane not only has confidently reinvented YSL, but he has boldly reinstated the fashion designer's role to interpret and encapsulate popular street and cultural trends making them at once enviable, desirous, and obtainable.