Ready To Wear: Poor Hedi Slimane, let's give the boy a chance

 

Fashion is a mercilessly fast-moving creature and even the most gifted designers step in and out of it only at their peril.

And that, perhaps, is the reason behind Hedi Slimane's bewildering debut for Yves Saint Laurent – the designer has been working as a photographer since he left Dior Homme in 2007.

The show itself has since been entirely upstaged by the almighty and very public spat between Slimane and Cathy Horyn of The New York Times. But less of that, please, and more analysis of why the former chose to take a retro route last Monday when the anticipation that sprang up around his appointment in the first place was reliant on his bringing the hard-edged, architectural modernism that we all know he is capable of bringing to this most revered name.

Slimane could so easily have sent out a small, tight, hard-edged and ice-cool collection based on the narrow and androgynous tailoring that he was always known for – the Le Smoking tuxedo remains the most famous Saint Laurent signature and if anyone can reinvent that, then he can. But he chose instead to follow a warmer route and to reference Saint Laurent in his absolute heyday – the late Sixties/early Seventies – which, given Slimane's fascination with music, and rock stars' wives, is heartfelt, and I like that.

I would also be more than happy to wear the shrunken jackets and skinny jeans he sent out for spring/summer 2013: however scathing the reviews, I'd be prepared to place bets that I'm not the only one where that is concerned.

It is unfortunate, given the open-door policy today adopted by houses as successful as Prada, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and now Dior – all direct competitors – that the powers that be at Yves Saint Laurent were so fiercely elitist and controlling with regard to everything from seating arrangements at the show to the publication of portraits of Slimane himself. It served only to raise the bar and nothing short of perfection would have made this degree of antipathy towards people who are, in the end, trying only to do their jobs, acceptable.

Here's hoping, though, that what appears to be arrogance is more a case of new-boy jitters. I say: give the man a chance.

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