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Cathy Horyn on Hedi Slimane’s Grunge Dresses: “Not Special”

Ever since Hedi Slimane strolled into the head designership at Yves Saint Laurent and announced his intention to rebrand the legendary French fashion house and move it to (of all places!) Los Angeles, the former Dior Homme designer's every move at the company has rankled.

At Dior Homme, Slimane basically single-handedly popularized the now-ubiquitous skinny jean-clad shrunken-chested white hipster boy. People still talk rapturously about his tenure at the menswear brand, but the designer entered his job at YSL after spending years on hiatus as a sometimes-photographer. In recent years, Slimane seemed less like a genius, more like a once-brilliant, now-retired eccentric.

YSL was Slimane's womenswear debut. As far as the world was concerned, the designer had something to prove, but the designer conducted himself carelessly. He announced the Saint Laurent name change and studio relocation to L.A. within just a couple weeks after the annoucement of his new position. It seemed arrogant. 

Slimane's first womenswear collections have been odd, but not awful on the level of Lindsay Lohan for Ungaro. The styling, art direction and initial concepts have all been off-key, but the clothing itself is fine. It's fine. Slimane's terrible behavior is what makes people predisposed to be critical, to seek out all the flaws instead of trying to see the best in his collections.

The designer takes every chance he has to be a smug childish jerk. Last season, he piled on Oscar de la Renta's poorly percieved attack on fashion critic Cathy Horyn after the longtime New York Times writer panned the way Slimane was conducting public relations at Saint Laurent (Horyn hadn't been invited to his debut show). The designer responded by attacking Horyn's "sense of style" and saying she would never get a seat at his shows, but "might get 2 for 1 at Dior."

Saint Laurent didn't extend an invitation to Horyn this season, but the critic did what she was always does when designers try to silence her — used it as column fodder. 

From today's New York Times

One of the first things the new designer, Hedi Slimane, did was to remove “Yves” from the label, thereby severing a symbolic connection to the founder, and everything he stood for, like good taste and feminine power. But it was also a test of the label’s enduring appeal.

Mr. Slimane has been the talk of Paris Fashion Week, or at least the closing days, largely because he showed a grunge collection of baby-doll dresses and flannel shirts, which I viewed online because I was not invited to the show. Opinion varied widely.


In terms of design, the clothes held considerably less value than a box of Saint Laurent labels. Without the label attached to them, Mr. Slimane’s grunge dresses wouldn’t attract interest — because they’re not special. But a box of labels is worth a million.

Hey Hedi, let's chat: Blocking the widely read New York Times critic from your shows sends the message that you can't handle criticism. Please just invite her next time. It's not that hard. If you want to be a jerk about it, assign her a seat in the second row, whatever. She might not like your designs, but she'll respect you and the broader fashion community will respect you. And then everyone will be less picky, more willing to consider the merits of your work.

Image via Getty