Karl Lagerfeld once remarked that if a designer listens to the same operas in the design studio, there’s a risk of producing the same dresses.
Little chance of that chez Saint Laurent, where rock music of all stripes must blare 24/7. By all accounts, creative director Hedi Slimane has hungry ears, forever scouting out new bands and photographing them for his “Music Project” portfolio. Ahead of his fall men’s show Sunday night, Slimane posted a slew of new images on YSL’s Web site and Twitter feed, showcasing 10 relatively obscure French indie artists including La Femme, Radio Elvis and The Pirouettes.
These “Paris sessions” also informed the collection, one of the most streamlined Slimane has done for the storied house. The designer distilled the essence of mythic Left Bank chic into the sharpest peacoats, the coolest leather blazers with the faintest Western twang, and the leanest camel topcoats striding European runways.
Every exit was grounded on pin-thin jeans or leather pants and high-heeled boots, which caused his desiccated models — as gaunt and deathly pale as a Tim Burton animation — to lurch awkwardly. Earlier in the week, Rick Owens caused a stir by sending out models in outfits that flashed genitalia. Might Saint Laurent catch flack for this glamorized display of the superthin?
Slimane also staked his claim on the feminine touches that has defined his career, wrapping sunken chests in sparkly fishnet tops or sheer lace. Clothes became flashier as the show progressed, building from leopard-print car coats and beaded blousons and culminating with a shocking pink mink coat.
The dozen or so women’s looks were striking, laser-focused on sparkly minidresses and tough-minded outerwear, including a minimalist black leather cape and a military parka.
After the show, Saint Laurent tweeted that the collection was conceived in September, only a few months after its influential psychedelic rock show. While countless designers cited the music scene as an inspiration this season, Slimane keeps tightening his grip.