Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.
Hedi Slimane’s passions are shared equally between music, art and fashion–a fact his Saint Laurent Spring 2014 men’s show made plain right from the start.
The show invitation, a superbly printed booklet featuring the colorful artwork of abstractionist painter Matt Connors already feels like an art collector’s item. Connors’ artwork, along with that from Vermont-based artist Luke Thomas and musician and artist Zane Reynolds, appears on several of Slimane’s pieces. And singer Sam Flax recorded a new 20 minute extended version of his 2012 ‘Fire Doesn’t Burn Itself’ especially for the show.
Like last season, Slimane cast young indie musicians in the show. Matthew Hint of the Drowners, Fletcher and Wyatt Shears of the Garden, Cole Smith of the Diiv and Vincent Barbier of Sobo all walked wearing the sophisticated, tailored and, at times, gold flecked clothes. Some of it reminded me of a young David Bowie–who, coincidentally or not, is the subject of an exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London until August.
A 180 from last season’s ’90s luxe-grunge, this collection’s homage to Teddy Boys demonstrated Slimane’s mastery of techniques and craftsmanship. This time, the single-breasted jackets were cut shorter and paired with higher waisted pants, belted slightly above the belly button. (One extreme version of this pant came with a short leopard print cropped tuxedo jacket).
Couture workmanship permeated the collection–but it was subtle, only belied in minute details: A black jacket was split in the back, for instance, and reconnected with dangling platinum chains; another jacket was cut out in the back and held together by belts. My favorite piece was a backless leather biker vest over a black and white argyle sweater.
In the near darkness of the finale, the indie musicians came out wearing small lapel slim black wool suits. The more commercially-oriented merchandise was shown at the end, and with little light shone on them. Beyond the spectacle of the show, this is where Saint Laurent is making an impact–giving customers luxurious, but emotionally-driven designs. The ankle zipper boots will be sure sellers in white or hot pink (and for boys, or girls).
What is important here is not that the collection is trendy but that it represents the now. This was the spirit of YSL in the late ’60s and ’70s.