PARIS -- After a big night for his Saint Laurent brand at the Academy Awards, dressing host Ellen DeGeneres in three elegant riffs on le smoking, and supporting-actor winner and dude-style icon Jared Leto in a white tuxedo, Los Angeles-based designer Hedi Slimane staged his best Saint Laurent collection yet at Paris Fashion Week. The clothes were crackling with teenage spunk, even if the show did make me feel like the uncool girl at the party.
Slimane's shows are more like happenings, taking place in venues as dimly lit as underground clubs, with dubious fire exits and movable set pieces (this season, arm gates stretched across the runway, raising and lowering like industrialized velvet ropes).
Yves Saint Laurent might have had Andy Warhol and Bianca Jagger sitting runway side in his day, but Hedi had Catherine Deneuve, Azzedine Alaia and two guys who looked like Miles Kane and Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys popping Champagne, although it was really too dark to be sure which was probably the point.
Slimane commissions original music (the toe-tapping "Had Ten Dollaz" by L.A. band Cherry Glazerr was the tune, according to show notes) and a different portfolio of artwork to go with show invitations each season (this time, featuring works by L.A. artist John Baldessari).
The message? He's plugged in--with the old guard, the new guard and the crossing guards.
To wit, it was announced via social media at show's end that the collection was made on 16-year-old model Grace Hartzel, who has gone from Indianapolis to international runway star in what seems like a minute.
Hartzel, who opened and closed the show, was surely one inspiration for the collection's girlish, "bright lights, big city" glam -- the glitter Mary Jane shoes, close-fitting capes and sparkly minis.
The band Cherry Glazerr (also teenage ingenues) who star in the Saint Laurent spring 2014 print campaign, are probably another.
But even if you've never heard of Hartzell or Cherry Glazerr, the collection appealed on a purely aesthetic level -- from a sleek, hooded red cape (insert red riding hood reference here), to crystal-embroidered tartan evening shorts, glittery go-go boots to a miniskirt with a foiled print of handguns, one of Baldessari's favorite subjects. Slim coats, jumper dresses that sparkled like disco balls, and fun furs added to the party mix.
And if there wasn't enough to buzz about already, decades after Yves Saint Laurent was inspired by Picasso, Mondrian and Warhol in the '60s and 70s, art was on the runway again.
Slimane showed three couture mini-dresses made in collaboration with Baldessari, which will be limited to a numbered edition of 10.
And just like that, Slimane's Saint Laurent went from collection to collectible. You've got to hand it to him -- it's genius.
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