Saint Laurent Eyewear via Vogues Homme Japan
As the fashion set worldwide anxiously awaits Hedi Slimane’s designers under the Saint Laurent Paris label, I believe this is an appropriate time to reflect on his viewpoints on digital media and fashion. In particular this 2010 Style.com interview with the Saint Laurent Paris creative director has stayed in my mind and stands out as something worth re-visiting . Mr.Slimane is questioned by Dirk Standen and proceeds to speak on varied topics including the relevance of runway shows and the broader impact of media in the increasingly connected and fast-moving media climate. I’ve included some of the highlights below.
How do you think technology—tweeting, blogging, social media, etc.—has affected fashion? For better or worse?
It has affected different aspects of fashion tremendously. From commentary to fashion design, communication, and distribution.
The fashion Internet community is like a global digital agora tweeting passions and opinions. Anyone knows better, and each one is a self-made critic.
This is a fascinating idea, as I always favored amateurism (”the one that loves”) over professionalism, attraction over experience. It obliges anyone in the industry to think in a fresher way.
Of course, it is hard to say if any “authority,” someone like Suzy Menkes, might one day come out and use digital means to lead with integrity, enough background, outside of any conflict of interest.
On a design perspective, it has allowed any young designer or indie brand to get an instant audience, if used with wit and invention.
I am not quite sure of the future of retail as we know it. This is a truly important thing, maybe the most important one, as it might already mean there is nothing standing between the design and an audience/consumer.
Finally, the better and the worse have always been part of fashion, with the Internet only magnifying it and creating a joyful and noisy digital chaos.
The bottom line is that any note can create music. It is only a matter of taste.
Some people are questioning whether, in an era when information is disseminated so quickly, fashion shows still matter. As someone who has been both a participant and observer, do you think fashion shows are still an important and effective method of presentation?
I understand the options, but there is something else besides information.
Fashion somehow, for me, is purely and happily irrational.
I like the ritual, the liturgy of a well-crafted, emotional fashion show. I will never be jaded with this side of fashion. The “catwalk” is pure anthropology, something like an esoteric encrypted parade. It can totally be replaced but it will be missed.
Archaisms do have some reassuring charms, unless the Internet is used creatively, and in a poetic way.
The problem is also the number of brands that insist, for vanity or desperation and beyond common sense, to squeeze into the endless fashion weeks of the world for the wrong reasons.
Some of them would benefit from different methods to present their collections.
The silhouette you proposed for men at Dior Homme is in many ways still the dominant silhouette today. Are you surprised by how long it has lasted? Do you see it changing?
I started to work on my silhouette since the end of my Saint Laurent years, when I had the option to pursue my own style. I also started it because it was the only thing that would fit me, to be totally honest.
I became very repetitive with it over the years, as I was trying to define it accurately.
I always thought it was all about repetition, and I became extremely stubborn despite my opponents and the natural aim of the fashion industry to look for something new each season. I never wanted to please, as long as I could follow my beliefs. I always and only thought about my own time and the birth of an entire generation.
I heard so much about my proportions, and how absurd and unsuccessful, for instance, my skinny jeans and silhouette would be. I also heard about my lack of definition in masculinity, as I was aiming to try another definition. I also was questioned about my attraction to music, as I still believe there is no fashion without music. Marie Antoinette knew better when she fetched Gluck to Versailles, to try her new wardrobe on the dance floor. Nothing will ever change. Fashion = music + youth + sex. This is what my menswear and my style were always about.
Besides the proportions, it was about an allure, a certain movement.
I always believed the way men or women wear clothes (le porté, in French) defines fashion, and funnily enough, through history, furniture design.
So that it was never a “fashion comment,” as I was interacting directly, and still do on my own, with unknown musicians, artists, street casting for my shows. It was not about doing punk rock or metal when punk rock or metal had no relevance to the moment. My fashion and my style were like a random and sometimes intimate diary. Living in Berlin, I interacted with the music scene at a time when Berlin was aiming to set up an abstract and ethereal digital tone; my years in London happened to be the time when a new indie scene emerged among my friends. There were no clothes available around, so I designed them for the rest of us. These are the clothes we wanted to wear, and these are the clothes, allure, and style that ended up my own.
Read the entire interview HERE