Was this a Topshop runway show? Is this a capsule collection for Urban Outfitters? The messy aftershock following a whirlwind tour of Courtney Love's closet? No, it's the Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2013 Collection and it's creating quite the critical storm at the moment.
In Hedi Slimane's second show for the French fashion house—now renamed and rebranded as Saint Laurent sans "Yves"—it's clear which direction the designer wants to steer the label in. From the devil-may-care styling to its front row attendees (Kirsten Dunst and Sky Ferreira), a definite youthfulness filled the room, and with it a considerable tension. Hedi is taking serious steps to disassociate YSL from a longstanding French fashion trinity comprised of Dior and Chanel, but where the designer tested the waters last season, here he's taking a rebellious little step.
That's not the issue here, though. The issue is that the collection itself isn't rebellious. And it feels confusing. Grunge as a theme is a familiar one, referenced by designers time and time again and in Hedi's case, that movement runs through his DNA. His utilization feels genuine and not contrived necessarily, but there is a lack of imagination in his mid-thigh party dresses and flannel jackets that is apparent on the runway—no fresh interpretation or personal take, no discernible point of view. Consumers spending $1,000 for uninspired pieces of flannel isn't a rebellion. Like all counterculture movements, a saturation point is reached where not conforming for the sake of not conforming is conforming and that's what this collection reads like. Just so many mixed messages.
If there is a compelling question this collection does raise, it's to be found somewhere in the democratization of high fashion and what that means for the industry. He may be designing for the younger Tumblr demographic, but 5,000 "likes" on a post online don't translate into sales or cement a legacy. Given Hedi's philosophy and sensibilities it appears this could be his mission and if so, it will be interesting to see how he explores it at Saint Laurent.