Saint Laurent Presents an Exclusive, Excessive Show for Fall/Winter 2016

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Hedi Slimane worked a staggering amount of 1980s volumes and excess into Saint Laurent’s parade of abbreviated, youthful garments.

If Balenciaga was the hottest seat at Paris Fashion Week, Saint Laurent was the most exclusive. For Fall/Winter 2016, the brand mysteriously changed venues from the hip and obscure to the most storied. After 18 months of renovation, Saint Laurent’s new home at the 300-year-old Hôtel de Sénecterre was finally opened to the fashion elite, who were narrowed to only a select few for the grand reveal.

Hôtel de Sénecterre houses Saint Laurent’s two couture ateliers, which are said to produce on a case-by-case basis as the brand has not officially shown couture since 2002. It was all a bit cloak and dagger, as the re-branded Saint Laurent included the name “La Maison Yves Saint Laurent” on the show invite, which alerted attendees to the possibility of a couture return. While reps said firmly that this was not a couture show, it was crafted at the couture ateliers. Confusing. At the very least, the presentation, entitled ‘La Collection de Paris’, promised to hold something new in store.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

Slimane has often been accused of being not a designer but a perfectionist, a stylist, and a grand wizard of marketing. Those who have pointed the finger might lay down their barbs after this show, which worked a staggering amount of 1980s volumes and excess into Saint Laurent’s parade of abbreviated, youthful garments.

The presentation, entitled ‘La Collection de Paris’, promised to hold something new in store.

Look numbers were announced over speakers in the place of music as models descended a stone staircase. A skinny suit opened the show in homage to ‘Le Smoking’, and a shrunken mini dress came next fitted with immense, jutting winged ruffles. The contrast of fitted, tiny mini dresses and architectural volumes split the difference between the 80s and Slimane’s modern, revealing aesthetic. Additionally, there were leather jumpsuits or versions completely covered in sparkling sequins, eye-popping furs with shoulders so wide they would have trouble passing through most doors, polka-dotted bubble skirts, and grommet-stamped jackets.

A contentious amount of speculation and rumor surrounded this presentation, thought by many to be Slimane’s last. Already at a frenzy, gossip was thrown into a fever pitch when Slimane did not appear at the end of the show. His crimson fur coat that enveloped the body in a heart-shaped silhouette could be perceived as the denouement of what was a titillating, extravagant display – or a final, affectionate note on his future departure. The latter remains to be seen.

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