There was a lot of talk this past summer on Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent. First, the normally reclusive designer gave a rare and revealing interview to Yahoo Style, which resulted in Alexander Fury, of The Independent, to ask whether (or not) Slimane is dishonoring YSL's legacy, which then resulted in The Cut's Véronique Hyland retorting on why Slimane isn't dishonoring YSL, but instead is "carrying on his legacy." This small quarrel then split the fashion community almost completely into two clean halves: those who agreed with Hyland and Slimane, and those who did not. In my opinion, you don't need to be a journalist with an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion history (i.e. the genius that is Alexander Fury) to see that Saint Laurent and Slimane are are at two, incomparable levels of design and artistry. In fact, you don't need to look any further than his most recent collection for the house.
Yves Saint Laurent created. He created new silhouettes, new ways of thinking, a new structure of fashion. Hedi Slimane curates his shows out of styles already existing; his collections are more like the Pinterest board of an angsty teenager reminiscing about punk and grunge and glamor. (Trust me, I know an angsty teenager when I see one.) In Slimane’s defense, curation and styling are, indeed, forms of creativity, but just not on the same level of Yves Saint Laurent's creativity. Yves shocked his audience with his contemporary designs and challenged the times, for which he was very much criticized. Hedi Slimane, however, has not been criticized for being too outgoing, but instead for being mediocre, therefore the criticism they both faced are not parallel and, by no means, put them on the same level. Slimane has been using Saint Laurent as a canvas for cultivating his own aesthetic. There's nothing wrong with a glamorous, faux rock n' roll look. There's nothing (entirely) wrong with prioritizing commerciality. There's nothing wrong with unoriginal clothes, as long as they're not passed off under the name of one who worked so very hard at creating originality, and therein lies the greatest wrong Slimane has accomplished. These leather skirts and jean jackets aren't only terribly used goods, they're not even used Saint Laurent goods, in which case they may still be good. The fact that this tired aesthetic is standing in the house that created ready to wear, that is the disgrace, the dishonor. The investors may love Slimane, as sales have never been better, but Mr. Saint Laurent is most certainly rolling in his grave.
Photos via Vogue Runway.