Saint Laurent Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2013 Paris

On Monday night the fashion world saw the opening of an intriguing new chapter in its long and illustrious history.
The build up had been perfectly orchestrated. First there was the changing of the name, dropping the Yves to become Saint Laurent. Next came the news that the design studio would follow the newly appointed designer Hedi Slimane to Los Angeles. And then there was the unveiling of a new advertizing campaign staring musicians rather than models,released just weeks before the designer’s debut collection.
They were all moves that pointed to a designer that was not just taking up the helm of one of the most prestigious fashion houses in the world, he was going to remodel it from A to Z in his own image. Even before the show began the frisson of excitement that change was imminent crackled through the pitch-blackvenue. When the rapidly pulsating music began it even seemed to echo the palpitating hearts of those in the audience who watched in wonder as giant black panels slid back from the ceiling to make room for a massive stereo sound system that descended from the rafters.
Sitting in the front row of the show were a who’s who of designers -- from Azzedine Alaïa, Peter Dundas, and Riccardo Tisci to Marc Jacobs, Vivienne Westwood, Diane von Furstenberg, and Alexander Wang. Also on hand were the original members of YSL’s entourage, Betty Catroux and Mr. Pierre Bergé. Even Alber Elbaz, who once held the designer role at the house came out to support Slimane on his big night.
And then there she was, the first model on the runway, her long hair flowing out from below a wide brimmed hat. No surprise here, she wore an all black tuxedo. But it was cut in a Slimane slim silhouette with stove pipe pants, fitted vest and strong shouldered jacket, finished off in a flourish with a silk shirt that featured both a floppy bow at the neck and lace cuffs poking out of the jacket sleeves.
This tuxedo style was the foundation on which Slimane built about half of the looks in the show. Varying them slightly through the choice of fabrics, embellishments or finishes. And almost every option was crafted in shades of black – Yves Saint Laurent’s favorite color.  The alternatives to the staple tuxedo were silk dresses, of the long sleeved flowing skirt variety (think Rachel Zoe).  
Peppered throughout the collection were sartorial homages to Saint Laurent’s most iconic pieces. The “Verushka” safari jacket, the lace scoop back dress from the 1940s collection, the cubby, the sheer silk peasant blouses and Marrakesh caftan all had their moment on the runway.
There was an overwhelming 1970s rock ‘n’ roll vibe to the show, which could arguably be a reference to the moment in time when Mr. Saint Laurent was at the pinnacle of his designer prowess. However it also pointed towards Slimane’s love of the alternative music scene.  But somehow with this collection, in terms of Saint Laurent - the man - and Saint Laurent - the brand – did not find a cohesive fashion middle ground on which to reside together in sartorial harmony.
Perhaps Slimane was trying to get all of the famed fashion pieces the house can lay claim to out of his system in one fell swoop, before moving on to something not so referential or reverential next season. As Mr. Saint Laurent famously said: “fashion fades, style is eternal,” and Slimane certainly has style, he just needs to work on getting past the fashion.

- Jessica Michault

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