PARIS — Since June 28, select retailers have been invited to discover Hedi Slimane’s first designs for Saint Laurent Paris — and the first feedback is resoundingly positive.

What’s more, those invited to showrooms at the Grand Palais in Paris to view the women’s resort, men’s spring 2013 and accessories collections encountered even more Slimane handiwork: According to one retail executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the hangers, chairs, racks and marble-topped steel tables were all by the exacting designer, who in March succeeded Stefano Pilati as creative director of the storied house. It is understood the decor will form the basis for fixtures in a new shop concept.

The women’s resort line — representing Slimane’s first women’s wear effort — included sharp tailoring in fine pinstripes; short dresses with light padding at the shoulders; lots of silky, girly tops; cigarette trousers, skinny jeans and HotPants, and iconic styles such as tuxedos and silk crepe tie-neck blouses. “It feels very YSL, but in a modern way,” the retailer said. “Hedi has a vision. It’s so directional.”

Colors ran from black, white and gray to fuchsia and red. There were also animal prints on blouses, as well as sequins and silver and gold lamé fabrics.

Bags were described as modern and cleaned up; shoes as sexier and more aggressive, often with pointy toes. While best-selling styles including the Tribute remain, others resemble the one captured in a famous Helmut Newton photograph: a pump whose sweeping upper digs into the Achilles tendon. Leather goods come in nude and black, but also metallic and patent leather in vivid colors like yellow, fuchsia and Yves Klein blue.

Slimane’s men’s wear is said to be very much in the clean, modernist mold of his Dior Homme days, but less slim and severe.

“It’s very black and white, with a strong Eighties influence,” said another buyer, who also asked not to be named. “There were new constructions and cuts for suits, with a focus on the three-button jacket, and new shirt shapes with lots of special details, such as new collars and cuffs.”

Buyers noted that visitors were forbidden from taking photographs, and there were no look books.
Anticipation is certainly running high in retail circles, and frustration and curiosity among press ranks, who must wait until September for Slimane’s runway debut to see his full-strength vision for what he’s dubbed Saint Laurent Paris.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy and buzz in the organization that only leads you to believe that it is going to be spectacular. We’re all very excited. I think it’s a great moment,” said Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear at Barneys New York, who had yet to see the collections. “[Hedi] is a wonderful designer, extremely talented, visionary, truly modern, and [the collection] will be a very interesting project for him and for anyone like us who has the luxury of participating.”

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