Throughout his tenure as the creative director of Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane has made a habit of declining interviews–to reporters hoping to get a quote after his shows and even to the New York Times.
Although Slimane doesn’t actually say much, the article (which you probably haven’t even gotten to in the September Issue–it’s towards the end) does reveal some interesting tidbits about the elusive
fashion designer ‘California artist’ and his work at Saint Laurent–even if the article is a bit adulatory (perhaps it’s Vogue‘s apology for gently mocking the last collection).
For instance, it explains the reasoning for his seemingly basic wares’ exorbitant price tags. Apparently, those $68,000 babydoll dresses (yes, really) that look like items you might find at Topshop are actually couture quality. As Heller points out, “Many of the details on which Slimane spends his time aren’t apparent on the runway.” Such as: a black on black leopard print that’s an allusion to one of Yves Saint Laurent’s old patterns; and the couture-quality cashmere and silk used to weave the red bandanas (worn around some models’ necks). The $68,000 dress was the result of “hundreds of hours of tailoring” to haute couture standards using fabrics commissioned by Slimane himself. “What people didn’t see in the grunge was that literally 40 percent of the pieces were handmade in the old atelier,” Slimane said.
Heller also mentions that Slimane plans to move operations to a new studio and atelier in Paris’s Left Bank and revive its couture operations–a move that was rumored back in 2012.
The quality of Slimane’s designs may come from Paris ateliers, but the inspiration has Slimane’s home base of Los Angeles written all over it. In fact, according to Heller, Slimane wanted to return to YSL “not as a Parisian fashion guy but as a California artist.”
Part of that obviously involved staying in L.A., where he moved several years ago. Turns out we have President Barack Obama to thank for that. “The first election”—of Obama, in 2008—“was a big part of me moving,” he said. “I thought it was a very promising time for America—I’ve always been more interested in politics in the U.S. than in France.”
He’ll probably stay even after Obama departs the White House–he says he’s grown to love L.A. more and more and even drives around in a Rolls Royce. Sounds like he’s got it made.