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Saint Laurent’s rebel yell

By Rebecca Lowthorpe

No homage. No reverence. It was Grunge.

Mussed-up hair, black eyeliner, flat strapped boots, fishnet tights, mohair cardigan, slung-on dress. That was the first look that pounded out to hard-core electric guitar which turned out to be Tidal wave ‘13 by Thee Oh Sees, recorded on the road in Australia and Asia.

Hedi Slimane brought Californian Grunge to the Saint Laurent catwalk this evening at the Grand Palais in Paris. And it didn’t come out of the Yves Saint Laurent archives, as it did last season. It came out of Hedi Slimane and his Los Angeles heartland and home. And also the spirit of the times? Just as Yves Saint Laurent tapped into the mood of the moment, reflected the shifts in women’s independence and liberation – with the trouser suit, leather jacket and many more, all of which were shockingly new at the time – was Slimane not reflecting the current status quo? Here was the rebel, with all her teen spirit, angst and energy. The fashion equivalent of angry youth if ever there was one, reflecting an age of mass unemployment, greedy bankers, recession, religious and political unrest? Just think of all the punk shows we have seen this season – and there was punk here, too, with the ripped denim, studded boots and general air of anarchy.

However, Grunge on the catwalk isn’t new. The last time we saw it march down a catwalk was in 1992 with Marc Jacobs’ seminal Grunge collection for Perry Ellis. That was shockingly new. It got him fired. This collection for Saint Laurent, was neither shocking, nor will it see the back of Hedi Slimane. Far from it. But the designer is certainly asking for a different customer, his kind of customer. There they all were on the front row: Alison Mosshart (herself very Grunge with blonde-pink hair), Jamie Hince, Lou Doillon, Sky Ferrara, Kirsten Dunst, Jessica Chastain and Garrett Hedlund.

Of course, if you deconstruct these outfits, you’ll find sharp pinstripe suits, biker jackets, slim-line coats and bustier dresses in black leather, a leopard print coat, a charcoal pea coat – all at the heart of the Saint Laurent DNA. What you will also find are slouchy mohair cardigans, sweet floral-printed tea dresses with white collars and black sequinned bows, knitted scarves, oversized tartan shirts, a black wool or patchworked fur cape, a crystal studded dress (and matching fishnet tights), a silver slip dress, a web of lace dress. The permutations were endless.

Was this a brilliant collection? Yes. It defined the moment. Will it sell? Probably, very well. Is Hedi Slimane turning Saint Laurent into a modern woman’s go-to brand? If you’re cool enough.

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