Before we go in, a brief history: Hedi Slimane changed men’s fashion forever. At Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, Dior Homme then back to Saint Laurent as the creative behind both men’s and womenswear lines. Jobs in between as a respected photographer and creative director honed his aesthetic. Tonight’s Paris show – a debut of his designs for a new Celine menswear line – was a distillation of all of Slimane’s gangly aesthetics. Hedi’s boy is the lead singer, the naughty one; the one who all the girls fancy: “he’s trouble that boy” the dads would say if a girl took him home. He’s got the best hair and the tightest trousers; the poutiest pout and the youth club award for “sexiest smoker”.
Entitled ‘A London Diary Portraits of British Youth’ Slimane debuted a chronicle and cultural narrative of British youth tribes. The distillation, over 66 exits, was shown in a specially built large black box, next to the Place de la Concord. The show opened with giant artwork of flashing strips of light, which suspended above the runway, along the roof then stopped. And on they came: A hit parade of Mods – first and second generation – and their drainpipes trousers cut with a 15” bottom (Mod rules); with boys from the New Wave scene: the shirts and skinny toes – all very Covent Garden club scene; then the Teds (this time not fighting), who wore leopard print Crombies and frock coats. The Punks: leather biker jackets with studs hammered on the lapels; the Hard Times kids: the late ‘70s. very early ‘80s children of Thatcher in make-do “grandad coats” and black wool “donkey jackets” with leatherette yokes, worn by coal miners and road workers and adopted by the cool kids (and The Jam’s Paul Weller). There was something of British school uniform in many of the blazers, too.
British youth has often been a source of inspiration for Slimane: he’s a huge fan of the capital city and it’s various “scenes”. There is a theory that British teenagers learn to create their own tribal uniforms from an early age because of uniforms – school uniforms. We learn to rebel and adapt and style our machine-washable blazers and trousers, shirts and ties to counter the strict uniform policies we have at school. Who’s not got detention for taking their trousers up “too high” or taking a compass to their school tie and pulling out the threads? Naughty. There were lots his fans will love: the sunglasses – wrap-around – will be the new (old) shape for Slimane’s third wave global mods outside London. And brothel creepers: shiny, pointy ones; lots of them. A shout out to that grey wool duffle coat. Just a coat, right? Wrong: it was pretty much duffle-perfection. Let’s see how the collection is reviewed – what will critics think? Moreover, do shoppers even care? The collection will hit boutiques and stores eight, nine months from now and we’ll have all slept by then.
by Richard Gray