Some of us have been waiting all season for an elegant response to the Charlie Hebdo terrorist actions that left the world in shock and united France. During the demonstrations, which saw two million people take to the streets of Paris, one could hear comparisons to the 1968 student demonstrations. The most unexpected of responses seemed to be there on the runway of Saint Laurent.
The usual jaw-dropping staging launched the show, with a sort of mirrored unfolding puzzle box revealing the first exit. The show notes defined the collection as Paris Sessions 1, the first in a series dedicated to a talented new generation of French musicians, stating that the project began in September 2014. But it was the uniformed aspect and the proliferation of berets and Bretons that emphasized the French roots of the iconic brand, embodying the swell of national pride pervading the streets of Paris since the assault earlier this month.
The glamour was, of course, turned up to eleven, with glittering couture-like application in pieces like the red and black zig-zag bomber, and the fully embellished long blazers. Yet it was the defiance and belief in France instilled into every piece that really struck a chord. The stereotypes of Frenchness could have been lacking in taste in lesser hands, but they felt genuine here. Hedi Slimane’s evocation of youth was invigorating. Simple touches like the berets covered in metal pins will surely filter down to the sidewalk immediately, as the army of uber-fans both outside and inside of the venue watch his every step.