Paris Fashion Week was billed as the battle between Raf and Hedi. Which designer would deliver and show us a new way to dress, a new version of what they're known for while staying true to the codes of the houses they're designing for? It was sad that it had to be a "battle" in the first place, couldn't both designers propose something unexpected and fresh without it being a head-to-head thing? Maybe those would be different propositions but choice is no bad thing.
Well, it's turned into something quite different. Raf's collection for Dior was generally much loved and without drama. Hedi Slimane's debut collection for Saint Laurent is a different story. There was major pre-show hype, some upset caused by super controlling behaviour from PRs, heaps of praise from Slimane's mentor and Yves Saint Laurent's partner Pierre Bergé as well as Kate Moss ("Gorge!") then lukewarm reviews from fashion editors which led to the publication last night of a slightly bizarre letter from Hedi (well, it was posted on his Twitter page) to New York Times' Cathy Horyn branding her "a stand-up comedian" as well as making sly digs at her book, her style and how Dior might give her a 2-for-1 tickets whereas "she will never get a seat at Saint Laurent". Ouch.
The whole episode has opened quite a can of worms about how Saint Laurent have handled Hedi's debut - or perhaps how Hedi himself has chosen to direct it - as well as whether it really matters commercially if a collection gets a so-so verdict from press. What would the reviews have said if editors noses hadn't been put seriously out of joint from the pre-show diktats and seating issues? Or do editors really let these things affect them? Was the collection properly good, or a stab in the dark from a menswear designer out of his depth in the womens' arena?
And what sane designer would refuse to take questions post-show from Sarah Mower of US Vogue, Suzy Menkes of the New York Times, Lisa Armstrong of the Telegraph and Laura Craik of The London Times? And why not?
We've gathered all sides of the story into one place....
Pierre Bergé: "Sublime... He respected the codes of Saint Laurent."
Diane von Furstenberg: "I completely identify with that look, and I think he did a great job"
Kate Moss: "I want it all"
Alison Mosshart: "It's the best thing ever"
Harrods' Marigay McKee told Vogue: "He delivered a slick collection fusing his contemporary silhouette with rock-meets-Seventies-inspired styles that echoed an iconic era of the house drawing heavily on the archives. This strong aesthetic reflects the continued demand for a more pared-back look, which has been prominent over the last few years - with many women buying less, and picking clever investment pieces that can be mixed and matched. The focus was very much on the cut, fit and fabrication, and this was a collection that is perfect for our customer."
Betty Catroux, Yves Saint Laurent muse: "He is our saviour... I love the fact he has the same attitude as Yves Saint Laurent, a lot of things in common with him, he understands his times totally."
Robin Givhan, The Daily Beast: "Slimane’s silhouette looks to be so unforgiving that it could be a financial liability to a brand trying to build its clientele"
Jess Cartner-Morley, The Guardian: "But the show left viewers with a hankering for more of the Slimane-stamped skinny tailoring which dominated the first few exits, and fewer of the dress-and-cape outfits. An industry who arrived at this show preparing to be scandalised at how Slimane ignored the YSL heritage left wishing he had imposed himself just a little more"
Tim Blanks, Style.com: "It seemed that witchy seduction was the agenda of the evening. A bizarre way to stake a claim to one of fashion's most unimpeachable legacies, maybe, but it felt perfectly in tune with what one could legitimately claim to be Slimane's California obsession"
Lisa Armstrong, The Telegraph "The problem was, that like quite a bit of this collection, the accessories were slightly underwhelming... Crucially, what was lacking was the frisson of the unexpected - that challenging jolt that only a really strong show delivers"
HYPE AND CONTROL
Imran Ahmed, Business of Fashion: "It was the latest in a series of bizarre communications from a PR team whose attempts to control communication about YSL — whether coming directly from the brand itself or independent media outlets — seems obsessive...
"When we explained our thinking, namely that no designer can claim that every single collection is a commercial success, and politely declined to change the article, we were informed via email: “Don’t correct, fare [sic] enough, we won’t collaborate on any kind of project in the future"
Lisa Armstrong, The Telegraph: "For starters, there was the seating. Or the standing, with some journalists admitted only right at the back. ("Don't worry", soothed the PRs, "you'll be standing with your peers") . Then there were the instructions about the change of name. Sorry, names"
Lisa Armstrong, The Telegraph: "I would love to be able to watch his evolution at this house. Judging by his apparent fear of any kind of objective criticism, however, I fear I won't be allowed back"
Laura Craik, The Times- in an open letter to Hedi Slimane "All the things you seem to love and value — music, fun, sexiness — require freedom. You have yours. I have mine. Without it, we are nothing. So please, don’t ban me from your next show, because I really want to see it. We all do. We like you, even though you treat us like a bitch"
"I was not invited. Despite positive reviews of his early YSL and Dior collections, as well as a profile, Mr. Slimane objected bitterly to a review I wrote in 2004 — not about him but Raf Simons"
"And that was the problem: the collection was a nice but frozen vision of a bohemian chick at the Chateau Marmont. Or in St. Tropez. Mr. Slimane’s clothes lacked a new fashion spirit"
"I had the impression from the clothes of someone disconnected from fashion of the past several years. If so, that might be an interesting perspective. But there wasn’t something new to learn here"
THE HEDI LETTER
Some have said that Hedi's twitter account could have been hacked by a stirrer and these may not be the words of the man himself. However, nearly 24 hours later no denial has been issued nor has the tweet been removed.
|From Hedi Slimane on Twitter- click to read more easily|
Had a really weird dream last night that I was in Zara circa 2008.
Word for word RT
@TeleFashion: Backstage at YSL :no questions no photographs. us: can we breathe? Pause: yes you can breathe
From hot dogs 2 Hedi, is it just me or did the fashion industry just get really, really dark & scary all of a sudden? Why all the hate?
Hedi Slimane's odd behavior is creating more headlines than his somewhat underwhelming first show for YSL: http://bit.ly/Padk2q
Did Saint Laurent's Hedi Slimane refusal to seat top editors front row in Paris fuel bad reviews? http://nyp.st/PVDenB