Hedi Slimane commissioned The Felines—a Danish garage-Punk trio of girls with short-chopped bangs—to record their song “Pretty Boy” a few days ago. On their YouTube clips they look like three girls having a lot of fun. The models on the runway at Saint Laurent looked just like them, two-inch bangs included. By the time The Felines’s chorus had been played on repeat from beginning to end of the show, we could’ve all sung it out loud in the street afterwards. Same with the tune of the clothes: short, New Wave–ish tulle deb-dresses, skin-tight ruched and zippered body-dresses, skinny tuxes, split leather leggings, biker jackets. And everyone in the black upswept eye makeup of Soo Catwoman of King’s Road, London, circa 1976.
Slimane has worked at appropriating and repeating rock-style fashion classics until they become the visual equivalents of earworm tunes you can’t get out of your head. It’s genius marketing designed to communicate directly to a generation of girls on the lookout for stuff to wear for a good club night out. He breaks it down, makes simple—and then piece by piece, it all sells like crazy on several continents.
Saint Laurent has struck a retail gold mine, while Hedi Slimane chooses to live mostly in L.A., deliberately disconnecting himself from the Paris fashion system. That shouldn’t distract anyone from noticing how quintessentially French his thinking is. Frenchwomen don’t change their looks rapidly from one season to the next. They are more motivated to search out the perfect garment of its kind to add to their wardrobes—a perfecto leather jacket, a peacoat or ideally fitted trousers—than they are to throw money away on trendy stuff which will go out of fashion in a minute. In that, Slimane is their exemplar: not inventing anything new, but concentrating on what already exists. Saint Laurent products fit, they have an obvious usefulness, and they sell.
That said, Slimane’s slant on fall also connects with a generalized eighties-disco tendency which is on the rise this season. Young women don’t need fashion to remind them that the world is a dark and terrible place. Clothes for dressing up in, dancing in, and going out in to find boys—or girls—are the answer to many a young woman’s prayers. If she can afford them, she’ll find them at Saint Laurent.