Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2016-2017 Full Fashion Show Exclusive

The beat of the toms-toms has been getting louder all week and by the time of tonight’s Saint Laurent fashion show the rumours had increased to deafening proportions. The facts were that there would be a Saint Laurent womenswear show, held (as it was revealed relatively late in the day) in an elegant hôtel particulier on Rue de l’Université; that there were very few seats being allocated, although that number appeared to increase during the day; that Slimane’s Saint Laurent, which debuted in 2012 and successfully offered an uber-teen chic to women of all ages across the world had resulted last year in a revenue in the region of a billion Euros; and that khaki parkas, winklepicker boots, leather jackets and mini skirts, suede car coats and skimpy slip dresses, all accessorised with a “don’t ask where I was the night before” dishevelment, had divided opinion as to what the look contributed to fashion. But even the doubters have had to admit that if the rumours are true and Slimane is about leave, or indeed has already left the house, commercially he leaves a large footprint to follow.

Warned that the show would be starting at 20.05 precisely and latecomers would be banned, the Left Bank hôtel particulier filled promptly. A look at the running order on our little black chairs (each personalised with an engraved metal name tag) and the statement that the soundtrack would be neither Stevie Nicks, Nirvana, Blondie or any other Americana band, but the traditional announcement of each exit by the French narrator who fulfilled that task at every show of Monsieur Saint Laurent between 1977 and 2002, appeared to offer clues as to what we were about to see. It was looking very much as if Hedi Slimane was going to show us that if he had wanted to, he could have always offered us the unadulterated Saint Laurent thing; the high Parisian refined style that in its time was the ultimate in cool before becoming a uniform for the Establishment. Yes, he could do it. He simply hadn’t wanted to.

In fact, at 20.22, when the show began with that evocative “Numéro un. Number One” familiar to those in the audience who had attended shows during Saint Laurent’s day, it was clear that Slimane was sticking to his own guns, albeit with a hefty reverential nod to the house’s originator. The red lips, scraped back hair and sheer hosiery were there, giving the models a glossy polish rather than the underage high street look of previous shows, but the clothes were Slimane firing on full on Eighties glam. Leather jackets were embellished with silver stars or tailored in white with scrawled graffiti. A cropped smoking topped off a skintight sequin catsuit.

The many dresses were all the shortest they could be, cinched in with massive cummerbund belts, their bustier shape rising into fantastic moulded shoulders in leather or sculpted sequins. The Eighties clubland style was filtered through incredible workmanship in every detail, as if they were pieces of couture rather than ready-to-wear. And it would seem likely that not many of these particular items will be ready-to-wear, though undoubtedly the many accessories, such as the metallic courts, most certainly will be.

Was it Slimane saying farewell in a show that was such a knit of two men’s aesthetics? No doubt in the next hours or days we will learn. But for now Blitz kids have never looked so expensive, an irony from the designer who started off his tenure by making Saint Laurent appear, if not cheap, then definitely a part of mass market culture.

Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2016-2017 Full Fashion Show Exclusive


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