It's possible that no creative director debut has been as controversial as Hedi Slimane's at Saint Laurent. Reviews of his first few collections were lukewarm at best, with certain critics (i.e. Cathy Horyn, then at The New York Times) launching into full-blown feuds that will live on in catwalk history.
His first collections were gothic, edgy and heavily rock-inspired, marking a huge departure from the structural and sophisticated femininity that Slimane's predecessor, Stefano Pilati, delivered in previous seasons. "A bizarre way to stake a claim to one of fashion's most unimpeachable legacies," Tim Blanks had written of Slimane's spring 2013 debut show for Style.com, and in that moment, he couldn't have been more accurate. But "bizarre," as it turns out, sells: By February 2015, Saint Laurent had doubled its business since hiring Slimane — and with a slew of "It" boys and girls like Harry Styles and Cara Delevingne to rep the brand, it was doing quite well in the press, too.
Though Kering only just announced Slimane's exit on Friday, rumors of his departure have been circulating since January — meaning, we've had plenty of time to mull over his tenure. And while the designer's clothing has made a strong impact, leading the label into a new era, the accessories were the real sales and profit drivers and will likely prove more memorable when it comes to Slimane's legacy at Saint Laurent. From the tiaras to the Chelsea boots and the ripped tights to the skinny scarves, a number of Slimane's embellishments cast a spell on shoppers and fellow designers alike. Read on for a look at the accessories that defined Slimane's three and a half years at Saint Laurent. Interestingly, they're all styles that existed well before Slimane took over the brand, but somehow he made them feel more relevant than ever. (Though, the jury's still out on those tiaras.)
As the undeniable pièce de résistance of Saint Laurent's spring 2016 collection, the aptly named "grunge tiara" perfectly exemplifies the revamp of the fashion house that, under Slimane, is now complete. With a blast of blatant sparkle (and, perhaps, a slice of aesthetic irony), the headpiece is meant to be "worn with anything" according to the brand — from distressed, oversized denim jackets to airy, floral gowns — though we have yet to see it worn outside of Slimane's artistic direction. Somehow, at $1,995, they haven't sold out yet, so get one now if you want to have a real piece of his legacy.
As a trend that would quite literally make our collective grandmothers roll over in their graves, ripped tights — shown here in fall 2015 — epitomize the grunge (there's that buzzword again) look that made Slimane's collections so commercially successful. There's definitely something to be said about the devil-may-care attitude that accessory exudes, and it makes us, too, want to take a pair of sheers to our shapewear.
Wide Waist Belts
Slimane loves a good belt — wide, skinny, sparkly, grommeted — but the way he paired wide belts with both '80s-inspired mini styles and long, Bohemian frocks is a hallmark of his time at the brand. His final collections made the accessory a focal point, with nearly every dress in the fall 2016 show in Paris coming with its own wide, big-buckle style.
For spring 2016, Slimane brought Glastonbury to the runway and elevated the Wellington-style plastic rain boot in a minimalist design and demonstrated that rain boots can, in fact, go with everything. See this leopard mini dress and grunge tiara look for proof.
Visible underwear is regular occurrence on the runways (and at Saint Laurent before Slimane's time), but under his direction, the revealing look took on a tougher tone thanks to contrasting colors and more casual styling.
Skinny Neck Scarves
Neckties were central to Slimane's debut, and since then, the '70s-inspired look has been a staple of both his men and women's collections. It hits a commercial sweet spot that's wearable, retro, androgynous and glamorous.
After his respectful, if rock 'n' roll-tinged, debut at Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane shocked everyone with an aggressively grungy second collection — a straight up tribute to '90s-era Courtney Love (who wound up starring in the campaign) replete with the super-tough, buckled and lace-up black combat boots. It was a more luxurious version of what Seattle musicians would have worn back in the day, and rejuvenated the style's popularity among men and women alike.
Wide-Brimmed Felt Hats
Seventies-inspired, extremely wide black hats appeared in Slimane's very first, very Stevie Nicks-esque Saint Laurent collection, and have peppered several collections since. Easy to find at a high street store like Topshop, they're still ubiquitous among a certain type of LA hipster.
We've heard from the brand itself that its understated, covetable leather duffle bags have been a consistent bestseller, despite not really having a presence on the runway. I knew I wanted one as soon as I saw it, and they proved that Slimane's deftness at designing desirable, timeless pieces with commercial appeal extended beyond the runway. The brand produces them every season, and will surely continue to do so post-Slimane unless they're idiots.
Similar to the duffle bags, Slimane's Chelsea boots haven't gotten much runway play but are produced every season for both men and women. It's a classic silhouette that other brands obviously do, but fashion editors, celebrities and the general public alike have largely shown a preference for Saint Laurent's sleek version.