It was the year 1997, when angels look-alike brothers Ike, Zac and Tay Hanson became teen-pop idols with their first world debut single Mmmbop. In the same year the star of the best known grunge band ever, Nirvana, was blown out due to the dramatic suicide of the frontman Kurt Cobain. And now try: take these two apparently incompatible globes, let they shake hands one another, and transfer them in the end of the 70s, in Venice Beach, California, homeland of the sun, the waves and, of course, the surf.
This is what Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent since 2012, must have had in mind when he thought about how the man of the next Spring/Summer season 2016 should be. Innocent and ethereal youngsters meet the underground anger and fascination of the alternative; they decide to embrace the news and litterally ride the wave.
The collection has been wisely called Surf Sound and it addresses to the “contemporary Californian surf music culture”, as Slimane stated himself; rock vibes especially created for the fashion show accompany the impertinent walk of the models, that seem to be dangling around there at the right time. Lean bodies and bleached hair down meet plain dark jeans and white canvas shoes; layered clothing leads to weird combinations of geometrical patterns, lines and dots, and tropical prints of palms and flowers. The unavoidable checked flannel shirt matched with big oval sunglasses and woolen caps is screaming: “Smells like teen spirit!”, while leather jackets are enriched by free-spirit fringes and colorful patches.
But the Saint Laurent surfer boy appears to prefer shady night parties rather than sun tanning on the beach in the daytime: diaphanous skin and worn-out faces evoke the image of a grotesque Tim Burton charachter fearfully hidden under the beach umbrella. This noblesse oblige well matches with the Frech scent that is always perceivable in Hedi Slimane’s previous collections, no matter how rockstars or sportsmen his boys could be; tight scarves around the neck and diva details, such as leopard prints, contribute to remark the Parisian origin of the brand.
The few girls who took part in the show look like nouvelles Courtney Love in a melanchonic doll dress: black color and combat boots are gloomy romanticized by the laced border of the socks, thin nacklaces and bows around the neck. Other feminine outfits remind the glory of Coachella music festival, thanks to colorful ponchos and light white dresses.
Despite the fact that Hedi Slimane has been widely criticized for his gradual detachment from the haute couture origins of the brand Yves Saint Laurent, this collection is an additional proof that the long-lived fashion house can be innovated and modernized without losing the French touch that has always distinguished it.
Ain’t Laurent without Yves? The battle is still going on.
Article and illustration by: Marina Lepori