PFW AW16: Saint Laurent

Aside from the more crucial proceedings for Saint Laurent in Paris this evening, namely presenting 42 haute couture ensembles at Hôtel de Sénecterre, Hedi Slimane brought sexy back onto the schedule. If not more, this was almost as important than anything else.

These lavishly handmade looks, as creatively directed by Slimane, were made for the super vixen, an entity that has become a rarity in fashion’s present day visual culture, a fully-fledged female woman almost leonine in her courage to be just that.


Dubbed ‘La Collection de Paris’ Saint Laurent has offered up their AW16 couture presentation as a counterpart to the AW16 menswear and Pre-Fall womenswear looks shown last month in Los Angeles and an all-round up-yours to the fashion calendar in the same breath. Presented in the grandest of old time atelier fashions without any fuss detracting from the clothes and sans music, the couture garments were simply ushered onto their marble tiled walkway by a voiceover incanting, “Numéro un, Number one, Numéro duex…” and so on.

This was a fashion experience.  Expanding upon this, Slimane interspersed it with the idea of couture as costume, a realm, which for Yves Saint Laurent at least, it has always served to occupy. Still producing stunning clothes to the nth degree however, this was essentially Yves Saint Laurent couture for the same grande dame that Yves forged his career dressing, made for the young, aspirant grande dame of 2016.



It wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but it dared to be something that the rest of the fashion world isn’t, brave. Because, let’s face it, aside from going through the motions of a gender-neutral, but wait hasn’t it always been, bit of clothing here and a little more utility-chic there, no one is really rocking the boat with the clothes themselves.




In this case the couture fit into two categories, those referencing those great fashion moments we know and loved Yves Saint Laurent for, le smoking, the chubby fox fur and the blushing pink silk bow, and those that referenced Dynasty’s Alexis Colby dressing the part for daughter Fallon Colby’s prom night, all given Slimane’s best glam-rock sheen.


It’s nothing entirely new either. Curiously enough, in many parts it wouldn’t be all that much of a surprise if the designer-cum-image maker behind Jerry Hall’s glam-amphibian costume on the iconic cover of Roxy’s Music’s  Siren album cover, Antony Price, ends up screaming blue plagiarism murder and subsequently suing.  Nevertheless to see Slimane bring such decadent high-camp couture into a classy context, much like Antony Price did with almost exactly the same pleating, ruching and shoulder-pad wings, is equally a blessing.

The question on everyone’s lips that weren’t stained by fire engine red rouge, the models were occupied elsewhere it seems, is now centred on Hedi Slimane’s movements. Will he stay or will he go? For now, for anyone not on the in-inside, it’s anyone’s guess. On the one side you could look at this pivotal couture presentation as the sands of time shifting for Slimane and a loving nod to Yves before his departure, or alternatively, his most convicted attempt to transmogrify Saint Laurent Paris and put it at the forefront of braving new directions. He has been creative head of the house for nearly four years now, so it’s about time.


Either way, one thinks that Yves would be proud of this effort, give or take a few awry looks to allow for his legendarily impeccable standards, and the gumption Slimane exhibited. For this sanctified Yves Saint Laurent discipline, admitting that for the very first time over the course of Slimane’s tenure must mean something at least.

by Liam Feltham

Images courtesy of Saint Laurent Paris