by Alex R. Travers
First image: Model Sasha Pivovarova stands in an abandoned loft with her head crooked down and her right arm bent, grasping her tuxedo jacket. Behind her, the New York City skyline looms. Pivovarova’s pose is evocative of Helmut Newton’s 1975 photograph taken on the dimly lit Rue Aubriot featuring the Le Smoking look from Yves Saint Laurent’s 1966 “Pop Art” collection. But unlike Yves’ Le Smoking, which included slouchy pinstripe pants and a longer jacket, here we see different touches: a cropped jacket, cigarette pants, and exposed skin.
That’s Hedi Slimane at the helm. The French designer, who is dynamite in his role as Saint Laurent’s creative director, has a fetishistic eye for detail. He’s also stirred up quite a bit of buzz. Last year, he dropped the Yves from the brand’s name, moved Saint Laurent’s headquarters to Los Angeles, and cast controversial rock stars like Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson to represent the house.
Slimane’s women’s collections for the spring and fall were met by mixed reviews. Some were scathing; others offered high praise. I have no doubt that Saint Laurent’s latest resort collection will do the same—and a good collection should provoke its viewers. The 2014 resort line was shown to buyers in New York earlier this month, but like most editors, I’m viewing the images online.
I should mention that Silmane shot these photos himself, so there’s a lot going on in this 24-look collection. Chances are you could play the name-that-influence game, and I’d gladly join you. But that would almost be a disservice to Slimane who, like Raf Simons and Alexander Wang, has the gift of assimilating the house’s history into fresh collections carrying his own DNA. Take his leopard-themed sequined jacket over a sheer chiffon blouse or his sequined shift dress, bound tightly with a belt and covered by a heavily cropped tuxedo jacket.
A carnal desire suffuses this year’s Saint Laurent’s resort collection; you can get a buzz off its sex appeal alone. A halter-top dress with a hand-pleated crisscross front is stunning. There’s a faille dress with a pleated top and high-low hemline that is also quite lovely. The focus on exposed skin here—one of the lookbook’s shots features a close up of Pivovarova’s chest and stomach at a rather androgynous angle—expertly walks the line between sultry and chic. Deep V-lines expose the chest and stomach, and hemlines are predominantly short.
“Hedi wants to shock,” said Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s former business partner and lifelong friend, in an interview. “When you are an artist, you are obliged to shock.” But whether you’re shocked, appalled, delighted, or turned on, this collection successfully makes you feel something.