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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Saint Laurent: Fellini-esque Couture

Hedi Slimane sends out a rocket of a collection in his Paris mansion

16 Марта 2016

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

"After three years' work on the building, I wanted to show in this space," said Hedi Slimane, as though it were the most natural thing in the world to invite guests to the impeccably restored gilded Paris mansion and have them watch — in a silence broken only by the announcement of each number — a Fellini-esque parody of the 1980s.

The show was done so perfectly that each outfit formed an erotic curve on the body: the "Le Smoking" tuxedo jacket with a clown's ruff at the neck and dotted transparency over the cleavage; skirts so short that they skimmed thighs encased in fine black hose. The shoulders were so uplifted that a flamboyant royal blue fur coat rose higher and wider than the legendary "chubby" with which Yves Saint Laurent himself had shocked society half a century ago.

из
Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


As a brand statement, it was a coup de grâce of a departing designer, or a genius step forward by Slimane — depending on how the world turns. No-one could have walked down the marble staircase of that beautifully restored building without having a reaction to the impeccably made clothes of unabashed vulgarity.

The make-up had the brassy glamour of a Helmut Newton photograph. Those shoulders, just as in the YSL glory days, were wide, bold — and now often reduced to a single, soaring wing. Yet, the effect could be sweet, almost cute, when a white jacket - splattered with inky graffiti over a draped dress with a stick-out mini skirt - was a reminder of Hedi's earlier shows focusing on young Los Angeles kids ready for fun.

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Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


This show was positively Parisian. It started with the tart voice of Yves's partner Pierre Bergé, sitting centre front in a holy trio with YSL muse Betty Catroux and the eternally alluring actress Catherine Deneuve. The contrast between this presentation and Hedi's high-tech, extravaganza - all sound, light and space age mechanical structures, with an audience of wannabe rock stars - was striking. Instead of a show trading on insolence and imperfection, these models were uber-perfect in the finish to each stitch on the shoulder "wings" or on a jacket punched with rivets.

The shoes were high, pointy-toed in brash colours, with legs swaying above canary yellow or shocking pink stilettos. Upstairs, in the attic studio rooms, an emotional Deneuve held a fluttering hand to her chest to suggest that she was overwhelmed with emotion as Hedi gave her a hug.

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

As a "Scandal" - the name significantly given to a recent exhibition about the shocking 1971 Yves collection at The Fondation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent in Paris - the Hedi Slimane show was a triumph. With so much attention given to whether or not the designer would stay at Saint Laurent, this ferocious statement, twisting the Saint Laurent heritage to the limits of decency and decadence, will not easily be forgotten.

As I traced the show in my mind's eye, asking myself what was pure showbiz and what could be adjusted by skirt length or shoulder width into more wearable clothes, I suddenly had a "ping".

All that excitement about Vetements and its exaggerated shoulders and brief skirts — wasn't Hedi's Saint Laurent the flipside of that coin: instead of 1980s re-worked as street style, this show revisited with an exaggerated couture flourish, a way of making a future from the past.

Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Saint Laurent, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

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