Much of the fashion industry expected a long-lingering rumor to be put to rest on Monday evening, when Hedi Slimane debuted the second part of Saint Laurent's fall 2016 collection in Paris. Since the beginning of the year, reports that Slimane was leaving his post as creative director of the French house — a stint that began back in March of 2012 — have appeared everywhere from The New York Times to WWD. Reps for the brand were diligent in shooting them down. Whether the Saint Laurent team was being sincere or just hoping to buy itself more time (we know PR damage control when we see it), the chatter has come from such reputable sources that it's clear something must be brewing in Paris — and that something different would likely happen on the runway this season.
But instead of a farewell blowout, the label's show was a much more intimate affair. In fact, showgoers were treated to a Saint Laurent Couture presentation — the first-ever held at the label's new couture atelier at the Hôtel de Sénecterre, a location that Slimane himself chose back in Jan. 2013 and took a year-and-a-half to renovate. Attendees' chairs were engraved with their names and, according to several pre-show tweets, guests were instructed to turn their phones off and told it was a silent event. (A far cry from the rock and roll extravaganza Saint Laurent held at the Palladium in Hollywood in February.) In lieu of music, Bénédicte de Ginestous called out the number of each look (in both French and English) as it came through the salons, just as she did for Yves Saint Laurent's couture shows from 1977 to 2002. Models made their entrances down a grand, marble staircase, wearing short, shiny party-ready pieces with strong silhouettes that just screamed excess.
The Saint Laurent girls of the season looked straight out of an '80s music video or hip night club, complete with cherry red lips and slicked back hair. Minidresses were the most popular silhouettes and came in an impressive number of iterations: sequined, metallic, one-shouldered, cut low with deep-V necklines, poofy with tutu-like skirts and, in one case, almost bat-winged. Every look was cinched at the waist with a bold, wide belt, and a number of Slimane's signatures — stripes, polka dots, studded black leather, star prints and sharply tailored blazers — got a couture update. Even flashier items included a hot pink, sequined jumpsuit, a tiered, ruffled polka dot gown and a bright red fur with strong shoulders that resembled a cartoon heart.
We'll be anxiously waiting to see which one of Monday's looks appears on any of the designer's super-cool, rock star or model muses the next time she has a froufrou party to attend — or, at the very least, an '80s-themed fashion gala. As for those persistent rumors? We'll be waiting on that, too.
See the collection below.