Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt
There was a brief moment of silence inside the blackened room at the cavernous Grand Palais before the Saint Laurent men's show--the first men's collection from Hedi Slimane since his 2007 exit from Dior Homme--got underway.
Then industrial steel arms and headlights began to lift and spin, while speakers blasted loud electronic garage music by San Francisco’s Ty Segall. The show opened with a black slim single-breasted suit, the cotton shirt worn underneath left untucked. Then came the edge: A long knit sweater with a black poncho and leather pants with zippers was the next look out, and it made Slimane's rock n' roll aesthetic more than clear. Tight blue and black jeans were torn and ripped at the thighs and paired with sumptuous shearling duffle coats, goat hair biker capes, and a long hand knit cardigan coat. In less than eight minutes, Slimane bridged the five year gap since his last men’s fashion show and brought his signature aesthetic up to speed. The 'model' cast--young, little-known indie musicians from all across the globe--no doubt also served as the inspiration. The clothes matched what these young kids would wear today. Casual eveningwear was a strong statement in this collection. Surely anyone wearing a cropped wool tuxedo jacket with a brown plaid shirt and ripped leather pants would not be mistaken for waiter at a formal event. Slimane even reimagined a leather biker as a more formal evening jacket embellished with elaborate gold and silver beading. Come September, there will be plenty of great clothes to choose from at retail. The broad shoulder short leather coat and the black pinstripe two button jackets come to mind. The ease and comfort of the clothes in the show betrayed the great labor and utmost attention to detail spent on each garment. A black wool poncho jacket, for instance, had patterns of small intricate pearl beading--something more commonly found on women's couture, than men's ready-to-wear. I have seen all of Mr Slimane’s men’s shows and have worked with all his previous collections over many years starting with his first YSL menswear show in 1997. (Back then there were no invitations just a phone call and yes, a fax, to the hotel. Now there’s an elaborate booklet of artwork by Brian Roettinger to accompany the show.) Since that first show--which featured modified, subversive versions of classic menswear staples--Slimane has evolved to create clothes for a younger generation less concerned with the orthodoxy of men’s modern fashion. If Slimane didn't exactly revolutionize menswear (as he did with his first show), he certainly established a different point of view of what menswear is. Here the archetypes that dominate men’s fashion are non-existent: There were no power suits for any occasions, no overt sexiness nor all-American wholesomeness. Instead, Slimane has created his own archetype: Young, individual and thoroughly rock n' roll.