Hedi Slimane, Fashion Wizard (part 1)

24 Mar

Hedi Slimane


News Flashes

On Facebook it caused a worldwide negative stir, but Karl Lagerfeld declared: “Paris needs some new things, some stimulation….. I love the idea. I think it’s interesting and it’s important. Something fresh was needed.”, after Hedi Slimane (just appointed new fashion director at YSL  in 2012) decided the company name Yves Saint Laurent would change into Saint Laurent Paris.

YSL logo

Saint Laurent logo

Years before (November 2000) Karl Lagerfeld decided to lose weight in order that he could adopt Hedi Slimane’s new skinny silhouette. “Until then, I had got along fine with my excess weight and I had no health problems, or – which would be worse – emotional problems, but I suddenly wanted to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane, who now creates the Dior Homme collections,” Karl told the Telegraph. “But these fashions, modelled by very, very slim boys, required me to lose at least six of my 16 stone.” He lost more than 90 lbs over the course of the year.

Karl Lagerfeld & Hedi Slimane.

Fashion Biography: Dior, Yves saint Laurent & Photography

Hedi Slimane  ((French pronunciation: ​[eˈdi sliˈman]), born in Paris on 5 July 1968, learned the art of photography before he even reached his teens and began making his own clothes at age 16. He studied History at the Ecole du Louvre, before he began working with fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart in 1992 on an exhibition celebrating the centenary of Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram.

In 1996 Hedi was recommended by Jean-Jacques Picart for a first-assistant job at Yves Saint Laurent and subsequently hired by Pierre Bergé as a consultant for YSL’s menswear. In less than a year, Slimane is made director of men’s ready-to-wear at Yves Saint Laurent. Yves Saint Laurent himself attended his debut menswear show and applauded enthusiastically from the front row.

But in 1999 Yves Saint Laurent is purchased by the Gucci Group. Gucci creative director Tom Ford is also made creative director of all YSL lines. Hedi departs, objecting to having to report to Ford. He declines the creative directorship at Jil Sander and accepts a role at the helm of Christian Dior’s men’s line.

Hedi Slimane’s revolutionary slimline designs for Dior Homme


Dior Homme


Dior Homme

Dior Homme

In January 2001 Hedi presents his first Dior Homme collection. Karl Lagerfeld documents the scene backstage with a camera. Yves Saint Laurent himself attends Hedi’s show, leading a standing ovation, but he skips Tom Ford’s debut collection for his namesake label…. And Hedi headed up the launch of Dior Homme’s first fragrance under his creative control – named Higher. He designs the packaging and works with Richard Avedon on the advertising campaign to ensure all elements tallied with his new vision for the Dior man..

In 2002, Hedi Slimane became the first menswear designer to be named the CFDA International Designer of the year, presented by Hedi Slimane  fan David Bowie.

In 2003 Hedi was given nonexclusive contract with Dior and in the meantime he maintained his interest in photography. He published several books – including Berlin, featuring his photographs of the German club scene and street kids, Stage, about the rock revival and London Birth of a Cult, about the then-unknown rock star Pete Doherty –  in the early Noughties.

Berlin , Hedi Slimane

Pete by Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane,,Stage

by Hedi Slimane

Pete by Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane’s inspiring online photographic blog, The Diary, is launched in 2006 – featuring his pictures of unknown cool kids as well as some of the music world’s biggest stars.  


In the summer of 2006 Hedi chose not renew his contract at Dior Homme after negotiations with the French house surrounding his eponymous label broke down (LVMH is said to refuse to grant the designer enough autonomy). Dior proposed to fund Hedi Slimane’s own collections but the designer was reportedly reluctant to lose control of his name. Dior announces that Hedi will be replaced by Kris Van Assche, his former assistant. Hedi moves to Los Angeles to pursue photography.

In March 2011, following John Galliano’s dismissal from Christian Dior, Hedi is linked with the job of new Dior creative director. But Hedi never talked about – or even implied- to go back to work at Christian Dior, or any other luxury house in particular. He did publish Anthology of a Decade, a book in four volumes about the past ten years in the four cities – Paris, Berlin, London, and LA – where he had spent most time. Also an exhibit of photographs, “California Song,” debuts at Los Angeles’s Museum of
Contemporary Art.


by Hedi Slimane




In early 2012, Hedi is again linked with two of his former employers – Christian Dior  and Yves Saint Laurent – both of whom were seeking a new creative director following the departures of Galliano and Stefano Pilati. In March Pinault-Printemps-Redoute, parent company of Yves Saint Laurent, announces that Hedi Slimane will replace Stefano Pilati as creative director. The label’s design studio will be relocated from Paris to Los Angeles, Hedi’s adopted city.  And in June Yves Saint Laurent announces that it will be renamed Saint Laurent Paris, sparking a media furor and protests from critics and fashion bloggers; Hedi insists that this rebranding will merely return YSL to its 1966 identity, when the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line was launched.

Hedi Slimane’s first show for Saint Laurent, Paris   S/S 2013


In the lead-up to Hedi’s first women’s RTW runway presentation for Saint Laurent Paris in October, the house issues a slew of instructions and rules to the press, sparking media chatter about Slimane’s supposedly controlling nature. He shows his first full womenswear collection for Saint Laurent Paris, which references Saint Laurent’s bohemian influences in the 1970s. According to the fashion press Hedi failed to deliver the visceral, game-changing act of rebellion which the industry expected from this most mythic of contemporary fashion designers. The 1970s haute-groupie looked nostalgic and familiar, rather than agenda-setting or challenging.  The reviews are mixed.

Pre Fall collection Saint Laurent, Paris   2013

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

Saint Laurent

And in March 2013, Hedi’s second collection for Saint Laurent Paris is inspired by the grunge period, Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. The disconnect with the Saint Laurent customer seems at times alarmingly wide. In California, where Hedi lives and to where he has moved the design studio, nineties grunge is a deeply felt part of everyday folklore; but in Paris, it is an abstract concept. And the grunge roleplay did not provide much in the way of roles for accessories. There were almost no handbags in this collection – this girl, with her unwashed hair and kohled eyes and fishnets, has no yen for an expensive handbag. Yet the YSL woman, surely, loves her handbag. This was a second act by Slimane which leaves the stage intriguingly poised for the next.

Saint Laurent, Paris grunge fashion show  A/W 2013

Saint Laurent Paris a/w 2013

Saint Laurent Paris a/w 2013

Saint Laurent Paris a/w 2013



Hedi Slimane

Next week more about Hedi Slimane‘s photography


3 Responses to “Hedi Slimane, Fashion Wizard (part 1)”

  1. Nel van Dijk 24 March 2013 at 09:02 #

    Bedankt weer Netty voor je opkikkertje voor de zondag! Ik geniet er elke week weer van.



    Op 24 mrt. 2013, om 09:01 heeft A.G.Nauta couture het volgende geschreven:

    > >

    • A.G.Nauta couture 24 March 2013 at 10:22 #

      Wat een lief bericht!
      Dank je wel,


  1. Hedi Slimane, the Famous Yet Reclusive Fashion Designer, Is Back - WEHOvilleWEHOville - 13 February 2018

    […] Hedi Slimane left Saint Laurent and West Hollywood in March 2016. But Slimane, who was born in Paris, never left Los Angeles. He is said to love L.A. so much that, before accepting the Saint Laurent position, he insisted that François-Henri Pinault, chief executive of PPR, the company that owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Puma and others, let him run the design studio in L.A. rather than Paris and fly in employees from Paris for consultations. […]

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