STUDIO 54 MAY HAVE SHUT A LONG TIME AGO, BUT GHOSTS OF ITS PAST ARE DANCING AGAIN WITH A VISION FROM HEDI SLIMANE, THE DESIGNER WHO REFUSES TO TURN DOWN THE MUSIC. FROM DRESSING KEITH RICHARDS TO COURTNEY LOVE, DAVID BOWIE AND EVERY WAIF IN-BETWEEN, THE FRUSTRATED ROCK STAR MANIFESTS ITSELF IN EVERY ARTISTIC PROJECT HE OVERSEES.
If it was intentional or not, Slimane’s radicalisation of the house formerly known as Yves Saint Laurent was a dedication to Yves’ personal distain of the bourgeoisie culture. Hedi’s choice of moving to LA, bringing with him the studio of Saint Laurent has re-adjusted Parisian perspectives on the real meaning of nonchalant.
ART FIRST, ART AGAIN
Born in 1968 in the 19th arrondissement of Paris – also home of Paris’ prestigious music School Conservatoire de Paris – to a Tunisian father and Italian mother, it was at age 11 that his lifelong fascination with photography was born. Hedi went on to study Art History at École du Louvre and followed with an apprenticeship in men’s tailoring, something that would shape his career to come significantly. Hedi Slimane started at YSL in 1996, installed by Pierre Bergé, in the position of creative director of Men’s ready-to-wear. It was in this position that he made a name for himself, bringing back the skinny suit to menswear, in a similar way that the English Mods and rockers of the 1960’s wore their tailoring. Slimane’s minimal, more modernized versions spoke loudly to its clientele, the silhouette never really left him, nor the way men have dressed ever since. After his F/W collection of 2000, Slimane left to pursue art, spending two years in Berlin in a residency at the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art. He made a book of his photographs during this period aptly named ‘Berlin’ produced under Karl Lagerfeld’s publishing group Editions 7L.
DIOR AND BACK AGAIN
Returning to fashion, this time at the helm of Dior Homme, Slimane reached an even further market of men with his trademark super-slim suits, but after five years, decided again to focus on photography leaving Dior and job offers at Jil Sander behind. After a long fashion break Hedi rejoins Yves Saint Laurent in 2012, this time in the prestigious appointment of creative director at large. This position oversaw the most radical changes to an already appreciated and successful house that anyone had ever seen. It was not without negative press and confused editors. Voices with the most gravitational pull such as Kate Moss and Suzy Menkes mostly outweighed the commotion even if it did split opinions one distinct way or another. What nobody factored into the equation, except Mr Laurent himself, is that shock waves aside, collections can be commercial. This important element is something Hedi Slimane has capitalized on, and in many ways has built his strength. The installation of a permanent collection, re-working and development of the accessories line and a ready-to-wear collection that reflects consumer desires, has seen the house double its returns in the three years with Slimane at its head. It is with this spirit, whether it comes directly from him, or as a part of a far greater plan, that a youthful, rebellious new direction has woken up fashion. If it’s his personally designed store spaces, provocative shows or his much acclaimed photography, Hedi Slimane is fashion’s very own star, with no microphone needed.
On the first of April 2015, after four years at the helm, Hedi Slimane left Saint Laurent once and for all. The Parisian-born brought the French luxury house up to another level by completely repositioning the brand with incredible achievements all along.
Painfully slim-hips, boys or girls, is a Hedi classic. Whether it’s a suit, jeans or a miniature skirt, the Slimane way involves a fair amount of wiggling in the change room and campaigns with the sharpest of angles.
Hedi Slimane is not shy of the archives, readily willing to adjust once favored styles of a by-gone era. His over-all aesthetic is easy to pick, from its disheveled brand of sexy, to its accents of disco sparkle, one might believe Hedi Slimane likes to dress his models similar to how we dressed our teenage selves.
Hedi Slimane reminds us that it is just fashion in the end “People always want an explanation about everything and I cannot give it to them. Because I don’t know myself. “Why did you do a pair of pants like that?” I have no idea. I’m not going to have a 20-minute political discussion about the necessity for slashed, painted leather jeans. Basically, I don’t know more than you.” There you have it.
A Slimane flavoured show, Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 15 runway perfectly summarises Hedi's signature aesthetic.
Hedi Slimane is born to an Italian mother and a Tunisian father in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. Initially influenced by photography, his interests move on to fashion after he begins to make his own clothes at age 16. Following that, Slimane finishes an apprenticeship at a men’s designer house and studies Art History at the École du Louvre.
Pierre Bergé installs Hedi Slimane into the menswear creative director position at Yves Saint Laurent.
After his ‘Black tie’ A/W collection he leaves Yves Saint Laurent, turns down a position at Jil Sander and moves to Berlin to pursue photography.
Karl Lagerfeld publishes Hedi Slimane’s photography works in a book titled ‘Berlin’, he rejoins fashion as creative director of Dior Hommes and continues the world-takeover of the skinny suit. Hedi Slimane receives the International Designer Award from the CFDA presented by David Bowie, the musician he had dressed for tours.
Steidl (main affiliate of Lagerfeld publishing company) publishes a photo-documentary style insight into Pete Doherty written and shot by Hedi Slimane.
Hedi leaves Dior and moves to LA to once again draw all of his attention to his photography projects.
Hedi Slimane returns to fashion as creative director at large of Yves Saint Laurent. One of his first distinct moves was dropping the Yves and moving the Parisian design studio to his own home of LA.
Hedi Slimane creates Daft Punk’s sparkly outfits for their much anticipated album Random Access Memories.
Hedi Slimane puts on an exhibition of over 15 years of his photography works covering musicians such as Keith Richards to Lou Reed. It is held by the foundation ‘Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent’.
With profits doubling at Saint Laurent, a heavy and growing photo series documenting the exploding youth culture of LA, Hedi Slimane continues to reflect the movement around him to his ever-expanding fan base.
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