Designers and celebrities thronged a pitch-dark room inside the Grand Palais on Monday night to witness Hedi Slimane’s runway debut for Saint Laurent.
Valérie Trierweiler, the partner of French President François Hollande, sat between Anna Wintour and Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s former business partner and a longtime backer of the ruling Socialist Party.
“I like what Saint Laurent does anyway. I’m happy to be sitting next to Pierre Bergé and to discover this show that has everyone talking before they even see it,” said Trierweiler, adding, “How can you not be a fan of Slimane?”
Jessica Chastain, Salma Hayek, François-Henri Pinault, Kate Moss and Jamie Hince were also in attendance.
While YSL is owned by retail-to-luxury conglomerate PPR, several designers attended from houses at rival French group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton: Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, Emilio Pucci’s Peter Dundas, Dior fine jewelry designer Victoire de Castellane, and Louis Vuitton’s creative director Marc Jacobs.
“Hedi invited me to the show. I’m a fan. I think it’s a really exciting moment. I feel really lucky to be at this show,” Jacobs said, adding, “They’re kind of happy to get me out of the office for an hour. I’ll probably be there until Wednesday morning.”
Vivienne Westwood, Diane von Furstenberg and Azzedine Alaïa were among other designers lining the front row, with plenty of editors in chief and top critics relegated to the second row — or struck from the invite list altogether.
Among notable absentees was New York Times scribe Cathy Horyn, though her colleague Eric Wilson attended. A YSL spokesman confirmed Horyn was not invited, but declined further comment.
Chastain, the face of YSL’s Manifesto fragrance, took advantage of a break from rehearsals for her Broadway debut in “The Heiress” to attend. “I have Mondays off, and I basically flew in to see the show and then fly out,” she said.
“I’m very excited to see what he designs for women, and already, even in the stuff I’ve seen on the Web site — like the bow ties — I want to incorporate that into my wardrobe. So I can’t wait to see the whole collection,” the actress added.
The Kills singer Alison Mosshart said she had been secretly hoping that Slimane would return to fashion. “I love his photography so much — he’s fantastic. But I miss his clothes,” she said.
For Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz, it was a reunion of sorts, as Slimane was designing YSL men’s when he was tapped from Guy Laroche to take over YSL women’s ready-to-wear back in 1998.
“I have a great respect for him and I wish him all the luck in the world,” Elbaz said, embracing model Jamie Bochert before taking his seat.
After the show, Saint Laurent muse Betty Catroux zipped backstage to congratulate the designer. “Hedi is our savior,” she exclaimed. “He is like Yves, he has totally understood his era. He is the heir, truly.”
Bergé concurred. “It’s very moving for me, because it’s the spirit of Saint Laurent, but revisited with Hedi’s enormous talent. It’s terrific,” he said. “I was the one who hired him, after all, so I have always had tremendous confidence in Hedi, and I’m thrilled.”