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HEDI SLIMANE

 

Representing one of the most talented designers of his generation, Hedi Slimane&rsquos career got off to a flying start in 1997 when his male fashion collection for global fashion house giant Yves Saint Laurent was lauded internationally. The designer, who put the concept of androgent at the forefront of the fashion world with his ultra-modern items made a sudden, and lasting impact on the industry. From here, it was only natural he should go on to become creative director for a giant like Dior. Slimane has since become notorious throughout the industry as a reformationist and revolutionary. To help you understand why, we take a look at the colourful of an industry renegade.

 

The young Hedi Slimane, brought up by an Italian mother and Tunisian father, always had a knack for trendsetting &ndash and for those who have known him for a long time, him it is little wonder that industry insiders refer to changes in fashion as &ldquobefore him, after him&rdquo &ndash a recognition of his ability to change the direction of fashion.

His career began in 1997, designing the male collection for Yves Saint Laurent. In was only between 2000-2007 while working with Dior, however, that his male fashion collections sealed his stardom. His &ldquoskinny&rdquo black suits paved the way for a revolution in male fashion. Slimane brought the concept of adrogyny to the fore of the industry and his style sent shock waves throughout the world. Numerous big brands copied his signature skinny rocker ties &ndash even legendary names like Karl Lagerfeld and Jean Paul Gaultier became some of his closest followers. Slimane gave the skinny look such finesse that Lagerfeld himself lost 40 kilos just to be able to wear his hand-sewn designs!

 

Slimane is not just a landmark name in the fashion industry, he is also a professional photographer. In April 2002, he became the first male fashion designer to win a CFDA International Designer Award, being handed the accolade by none other than David Bowie &ndash a pop icon who he himself had designed outfits for.

After a disagreement with Dior in 2007, Slimane decided to quit. According to Le Monde the designer stated that &ldquoI wanted to go forward and design a women&rsquos collection&rdquo. After leaving Dior many speculated that he would go on to found his own brand, or become the creative director of another fashion house, however Slimane made the radical decision to focus on photography. Slimane was so firm in his decision that he turned down an offer from Gucci Group, who had been after him since 2000 &ndash even after they offered to give him the funds to start his own brand. Slimane explained the move by saying &ldquoI love designing but when it comes to founding your own fashion house, that brings with it so many other issues. Global marketing, window displays, everything&hellip To do that kind of job well you really have to love what you are doing, otherwise you&rsquore doomed to fail. I have no intention of falling into that kind of situation. I do miss the materials, the craft process, but only when this is too much to bear will I go back to it. I will go back to design one day but only when the right project comes my way. So I&rsquom saving my passion for when that time comes.&rdquo

In the first days of the 2013 Paris Fashion Week, YSL&rsquos Stefano Pilati confirmed that he would be stepping down, and the announcement of his replacement came as no surprise: Hedi Slimane. Having turned &ldquoChristian Dior Monsieur&rdquo to Dior Homme, Slimane marked his triumphant return by rechristening the brand Saint Laurent Paris. The market was plunged into shock when Slimane, who would be designing a range for women for the first time, returned to YSL. As YSL&rsquos creative director Slimane&rsquos arrival brought with it some radical overhauls. From the collections to the store fronts, the mark was infused with a grunge vibe, the brand was reformed in every sense of the word. Slimane then presented the new-look Saint-Laurent&rsquos first visuals that owed to his photographer&rsquos eye the logo &ldquoSaint Laurent Paris&rdquo spread over the image of the back of a young, tattooed androgynous figure&hellip The image was pregnant with the rock spirit of likes of Kurt Cobain and brought rock style to the attention of the public thus bringing grunge style into the mainstream. The collection included eye-catching details in the stitching, form, prints, accessories, leather, and creative rock star forms, complete with tufts and feather fringes&hellip

Instead of models, the brand used rock starts &ndash Kim Gordon and Courtney Love to name but a few. Slimane brought indie artists into the project, working with Citizens! soloist Tom Burke, The Garden, and Ariel Pink and put on shows in small stage venues staring obscure unheard-of musicians. After that, other brands soon began hiring the talents of young musicans, but to  Slimane it was of no consequence that Coach, DKNY and Maison Kitsuné began following in his wake when, as the face of the fall 2013 season, a black lipsticked Marilyn Manson was chosen putting the imitators out to pasture. Soonafter, top 40 artists such as Justin Timberlake and Daft Punk soon began to take note of the designer&rsquos work.

The catwalk mis-en-scene welcomed London-based singers and artists to create a musical ambiance. Famous faces included stars sucha as Mick Jagger and Elton John, who have become genuinely big fans of the designer&rsquos work. Before releasing her &ldquoNight Time, My Time&rdquo album, Sky Ferreira posed for Saint Laurent. In an interview with Bullett magazine, Ferreira said Slimane was fully embedded in a relationship with musicians. &ldquoMy fashion work is just one chapter in the story. Musicians love working with designers. I&rsquom lucky in that I was one of the first to do this.&rdquo

Slimane's newly branded Saint Laurent also featured a &ldquohouse&rdquo theme with two tone squares and the designer personally chose who would appear before the cameras to display his new range. They rock their own style within the brand. At the same time Slimane has been constantly adding to his Rock Diary photography project, which culminated in a huge solo exhibition which put together fifteen years of the designer-photographer&rsquos backstage shots of famous and not-so-famous artists from Lou Reed to Brian Wilson, Amy Winehouse and Keith Richards. The exhibit appeared at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent in Paris under the title &ldquoSonic&rdquo, and was well received by critics.

Mick Jagger, Jack White, Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines, Daft Punk, The Kills and &ndash particularly &ndash David Bowie have all put their on-stage attire in Slimane&rsquos able hands. Slimane, the official designer of rock, is currently continuing his creative life and work in photography, architecture and contemporary music from Los Angeles, but goes back to his beloved Berlin whenever he gets the chance.