The highly collectible invitation — a booklet, really — was the only clue as to what we’d see at Saint Laurent. It pointed to a collaboration with John Baldessari. The conceptual artist is renowned for his seminal 1970s work reappropriating found imagery and many saw this as the perfect partner for Slimane, whose infamous reappropriation and distillation of ‘cool’ has been the bedrock of his work at the house. But it was, as ever, not that simple.
Baldessari reappropriates and recontextualizes, making something startlingly new in the process, and Slimane does the same. He increasingly perfects his vision for the new Saint Laurent, evident in the recent ‘le Smoking’ domination of the Oscars, and fall 2014 saw another evolution, a subtle shift from modern L.A. to London. The girls looked every bit the iconic Jean Shrimpton from 60s Swinging London. Heavy bangs, natural hair, smoky eyes, and enough sex and mini hemlines to steal a rockstar’s heart. And steal they did, as The Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner grinned his way throughout the show.
Slimane’s men’s casting is full of future rockstars, and his womenswear shows are full of their leggy supermodel counterparts. The cut was flawless and the finish couture-like, particularly the embellished pieces, while the effortless styling appealed to every girl in the room. In fact, it became clear as the show progressed that Baldessari’s 60s text work, art-referencing-art, was at play, as fashion-referencing-fashion: Baldessari’s mid-60s ironic piece Tips for Artists Who Want to Sell could easily have been Slimane’s Tips for Fashion Designers Who Want to Sell.
According to the minimal show notes, three “John Baldessari couture dresses” are a limited and numbered edition of 10 — a hint that Slimane may be gearing to step into full couture. Or perhaps he’s just teasing us. Either way, Slimane seems to know exactly where he’s taking Saint Laurent — and the ride is not to be missed.