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Hedi Slimane Debuts at Saint Laurent to Mixed Reviews and One Seriously Biting One From an Absent Cathy Horyn

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Image via Getty
Image via Getty

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Hedi Slimane's debut at YSL Saint Laurent has been feted and foreshadowed, excitedly anticipated and hotly debated. Safe to say people were eager to see what the designer had up his sleeve. Check out the collection and find out what people are saying about it after the jump—including some harsh words from Cathy Horyn.

Vogue UK wrangled quotes from designers, models, and buyers, and, by-in-large, they were supportive: Pierre Bergé, former partner to YSL himself and the man whom the show was dedicated, said, "[It was] sublime. He respected the codes of Saint Laurent."

Alber Elbaz said, "It was very Hedi and it was very Saint Laurent," and industry mainstay Kate Moss told famed photog Mario Testino that she wanted "everything."

CFDA prez and designer Diane von Furstenberg told the New York Times, "I completely identify with that look, and I think he did a great job. I think it was great, and I think Dior was great. Everyone is going on codes and the vocabulary of the brands."

And for a word on what people will buy, Harrod's chief merchant Marigay McKee, explained, "With all eyes on Hedi Slimane's ready-to-wear debut at Saint Laurent, he delivered a slick collection fusing his contemporary silhouette with rock-meets-Seventies-inspired styles that echoed an iconic era of the house drawing heavily on the archives. This strong aesthetic reflects the continued demand for a more paired-back look, which has been prominent over the last few years ... The focus was very much on the cut, fit and fabrication, and this was a collection that is perfect for our customer."

Fashion writer Robin Givhan would agree with the cut and fit part, but worries it might be too focused an aesthetic to draw a big buying crowd. She says, "Slimane revealed himself to be deeply influenced by his past as a menswear designer, with his expertly sharp tailoring and ability to give his clothes a confident swagger. For a woman who can fit into his silhouette—and this is the tricky part—his suits are the epitome of cool. But they appear to be cut for the sort of woman who has the physique of a 12-year-old boy. She is not merely slender; she is hipless. She doesn't have much of a tush either."

Still, Givhan feted the overall resuscitation of the brand: "Without insult or disrespect—and before a single garment appeared on the runway—Slimane did what Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford, and Stefano Pilati could not. He exorcised the house of the master."

Cathy Horyn, for her part, wasn't invited. According to her, Slimane "objected bitterly" to a review she wrote in 2004. Her review is rather long and not kind:

" ...The collection was a nice but frozen vision of a bohemian chick at the Chateau Marmont. Or in St. Tropez. Mr. Slimane's clothes lacked a new fashion spirit. Indeed, it was as though he refused to interpret the YSL style, beyond updating proportions. Even the colors seemed flat, suppressed. Of course, in the past two decades, a host of designers and vintage-minded stylists have successfully traded on the look.

Considering that Mr. Slimane was an avatar of youthful style, I expected more from this debut. I had the impression from the clothes of someone disconnected from fashion of the past several years. If so, that might be an interesting perspective. But there wasn't something new to learn here. Also, the self-important air of Saint Laurent's media relations—the calls informing reporters that Mr. Slimane wouldn't be taking questions backstage—is out of touch. Meanwhile, its competitors—Balenciaga, Dior, Givenchy, Celine, Lanvin—are having a terrific season."

Yikes. She also noted that she hasn't "spoken to Mr. Slimane in five years." So, there's that.
· Saint Laurent: Back at the Chateau Marmont [T]
· Behold: Hedi Slimane's Saint Laurent Branding Has Started to Arrive on the YSL Website [Racked]
· Hedi Slimane Explains it All, Calls Reaction to Retro Branding 'Interesting' [Racked]