Dispatches from Paris: Saint Laurent

Rebecca Lowthorpe reports

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GIF: Saint Laurent, s/s 2015 - IMAXTREE

Hedi Slimane’s show invitation for Saint Laurent is always a black book containing the images that have inspired him. This time it was full of Sixties porn, which turned out to be the work of American photographer Robert Heinecken (who once inserted pornographic collages into mainstream glossy magazines, which were then bought by the unsuspecting public). Flicking through Hedi’s little black book made you wonder if the models were going to have to pole dance on the mirrored grid of a catwalk installation. It revolved as the lights went up and a high, husky voice sang – ‘Un, deux, trois, ooh, la, la’ – an original composition by Aleide (who? She of Lolipop records, Los Angeles, of course). The bass was so loud, it made the back of your throat pulse.

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The collection was as it has always been: a pillaging of retro. This time, glam rock took place on towering glitter platforms. If you know this sartorial era, skinnify it, shorten it, put a hat on it (a boater or turban), throw sequins and sparkle at it, add sheer black stockings and wrap a thin silk scarf around its neck.

Hedi Slimane’s aesthetic is ultra-narrow – thus far riffing on the thin end of the late Sixties and early Seventies in every collection he has made for the storied house. The pieces here were interchangeable with any one of his Saint Laurent shows, be it micro slinky dress, lean pinstripe blazer, boy-sized leather jacket, tight Breton stripe T-shirt or cape scattered with silver firework beads. (Although, I do believe it may have been the first time trousers have ever been seen on a Hedi/Laurent runway.) But while only the hardened Saint Laurent follower could possibly know the difference between one collection and the next, anyone with the vaguest interest in fashion knows what Saint Laurent looks like (the message never changes so the image is perfectly clear), which is kind of genius.

Image: Saint Laurent, s/s 2015 - IMAXTREE

That Saint Laurent stands still is the ultimate rebellion in an industry that dictates everything should change every two months at a million miles per hour. Hedi Slimane is subverting the system, or creating a new system, judging by its financials: in April this year, luxury goods conglomerate Kering announced that Saint Laurent was the company’s fastest-growing brand, with sales up 27% in the first quarter compared to the same time last year. Not at all surprising when everyone at fashion week is wearing a Saint Laurent trench, leather jacket or winklepicker boots. Didn't you know? It’s not just the brand du jour, it’s a cult. Will anyone mind if this collection didn’t look at all summery? Pointless to even ask – it will have all sold out by January.

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