Designer Hedi Slimane might not come out to take a bow at the end of his shows and he rarely gives interviews, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t speaking to a whole new generation of designer fans.
This latest collection, called “Surf Sound,” was dedicated to “contemporary Californian surf music culture,” according to the Saint Laurent Twitter feed. Twitter is also where a number of beautifully detailed shots of some of the most elaborate pieces in the collection were posted to coincide with the start of the show. Each image (presumably photographed by Slimane himself) was shot from the back and gives a brief explication of the garment.
It is on the web, via any number of social media platforms, that Slimane has chosen to get his message out to his fans – unfettered by traditional news filters or media outlets.
Online is where the rich green jungle tapestry jacket worn in look number 57 can be appreciated in detail. Slimane’s vibrant multi-colored couture confetti tux jacket and the one made to look like blue snakeskin, both of which were embroidered by hand, also have a place of honor on the brand’s Twitter feed. As does a shot of what the house is calling the “moon jacket,” worn by musician Rexx.
Who is Rexx? The relatively unknown artist is another one of Slimane’s discoveries that, in the blink of an eye, has now been brought into the mainstream.
Rexx isn’t the only cool California find the designer sussed out and gave a global platform to. The artwork of the artist and avid surfer Billy Al Bengston adorned this season’s mood board invitation booklet. The Cali-based brothers Cole and Max Becker, musicians in the “Beach Pop” band Swimmers, came up with the show’s infectious music. Then, in the show itself, the male models Charlie Oldman (look 42) and Dylan Brosnan (look 60) made their catwalk debut as their proud fathers, the Hollywood actors Gary Oldman and Pierce Brosnan, looked on from the front row.
There was so much about this surf music inspired collection that felt incredibly current. There is the film “Love & Mercy,” a movie about the life of the leader of the Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson, that just opened in the United States. Then there were all the teddy (or souvenir) jackets on the Saint Laurent catwalk, which are the key item of the season. Of course, Slimane took the idea and turned it up to 11 by outfitting his with impressive couture embroidery and beading.
Even the addition of aspirational accessories, which are probably the only thing most of Saint Laurent’s ardent young fans will ever be able to afford (the flop knit ski hats, the fly away animal print scarves, the trucker caps, the white bug eyed sunglasses) spoke to the prevailing luxury business practices. Accessories are where the money is at.
Slimane might be keeping to the same slim silhouettes, baby doll dresses, fringe jackets, and sequined evening wear he has favored since he took up the head job at Saint Laurent. But through just a few shrewd slight shifts, each season he has been able to make the Saint Laurent brand once again an unequivocal sartorial tastemaker.