The City of Light touched down in the City of Angels on Wednesday night in the form of the Saint Laurent Los Angeles show, a runway presentation of the French luxury label's fall 2016 menswear collection and part one of its women's ready-to-wear collection.
It marked the first time the Kering-owned brand has mounted a full-scale fashion show in the L.A. area, where artistic director Hedi Slimane has lived since 2008 and the label's atelier has been located since 2012. And although the event was technically a look at what will be hitting retail six to nine months from now, the combination of the black-and-white billboards and posters plastered all over town, the timing of the show — just days before the Grammy Awards unspool here Monday — and the choice of the storied Hollywood Palladium on Sunset Boulevard as the venue, gave the whole affair a retro rock 'n' roll concert vibe long before the first looks hit the runway.
The notoriously press-averse designer declined, through his representatives, to talk about why he chose to stage the over-the-top sartorial spectacle in L.A. — especially on the evening before New York Fashion Week was set to kick off 3,000 miles and a red-eye flight away — but the city has long been a source of inspiration for him. The show invites delivered by courier this week were accompanied by booklets featuring the work of Los Angeles-based artist Mitchell Syrop (Slimane traditionally commissions a different portfolio of artwork to go with show invitations each season; a few years back it was another L.A. artist — John Baldessari).
Slimane also has been known to cast many a model off the streets and beaches of Southern California, including an impressive roster of celebrity offspring such as Jack Kilmer (son of Val), Dylan Brosnan (son of Pierce) and Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's teenage son Dylan, who has been featured in one of the short black-and-white video clips released in advance of Wednesday night's event.
The inside of the Palladium pre-show looked like a trendy nightclub with dark wood, subdued red lighting and servers circulating with trays of champagne. The crowd was a mix of the kind of young model types that populate Slimane's ad campaigns and runways and fashion industry insiders.
In true L.A. style, the sartorial tastes of attendees ran the gamut from Hawaiian shirts to ball gowns and from Coachella-appropriate faded denim vests to three-piece bell-bottom suits. Spotted in the mix were leather jackets and tattooed breast bones, and men in sparkly capes and women in sheer skirts.
And how can we forget those familiar faces and names? Hamish Bowles, Justin Bieber, Demi Moore, Lenny Kravitz and daughter Zoë Kravitz, Sam Smith, Jane Fonda and Sylvester Stallone were in attendance, as were Joan Jett, Lee Daniels, Zac Efron and Liz Goldwyn, who mingled with Linda Ramone and Anderson.
Ellen DeGeneres, who wore several Yves Saint Laurent looks during her stint as Oscar host came to the Saint Laurent show with wife Portia de Rossi. And fresh from her lauded Super Bowl appearance, Lady Gaga, almost unrecognizable in a blond wig, sunglasses and a gold sequin jacket, also was at Wednesday night's runway festivities. She crossed the floor to chat with Courtney Love, causing a pop of flash bulbs.
Oh, did we mention there were clothes?
The collection, when it finally started to strut across the runway in the round that had been built inside the Palladium, was just as rock 'n' roll as the location led us to believe, with bandleader jackets, velvet capes and musical notes emblazoned across the back of jackets. There also was a distinct western influence, too — as in cowboy shirts with studded yokes, vests swaying with gold metallic fringe and prairie-style dresses in pleated leather.
There were touches of English mod rockers, Hawaiian florals and Victoriana, too — all festooned with acres of sequins, miles of metallic embroidery and fur and feathers galore.
And what were some of the crowd favorites?
"The last three looks," actress Lily Collins said, adding that the event was her first Saint Laurent show. "And the second to the last was my favorite. The one with the sequins and all the feathers. I loved the mixture of the velvet and the sequins throughout the whole collection. It was so cool — it was amazing."
Jewelry designer, writer and photographer Lisa Eisner was also bullish on the sequin pieces, describing her favorite as a silver dress with features. "It was absolutely exquisite," she said.
Rochelle Gores Fredston, founder of Philanthropic Society Los Angeles, was among the show's attendees and she was smitten with one of the luxe outerwear pieces. "Particularly that long leather jacket with the fur collar — oh, and I was obsessed with the boots. I think I want them in both leather and snakeskin."