Saint Laurent Fall 2013. All photos by ImaxTree.com.Paris Fashion Week is abuzz with talk of Hedi Slimane's second collection for Saint Laurent, a very literal take on '90s grunge complete with plaid shirts, baby doll dresses and a California boho twist. No one is arguing that it was a strong collection, although some critics cite the saleability of certain pieces, such as the leather jackets. Fine. What everyone agrees is that Fall 2013 marks a definitive departure from the legacy of Yves Saint Laurent (1936-2008), a fashion prodigy who at age 21 became head designer at Dior, got conscripted into the French army, got fired from Dior, launched his namesake line in 1960 and proceeded to give us such classics as the Le Smoking tuxedo jacket. Part of the reason for the Slimane uproar stems from Saint Laurent's deservedly beloved legacy. Some people—like me—are inclined to take Monday's collection a little personally, to wonder at the point of offering such a deliberately dreary collection under the Saint Laurent name (and at Saint Laurent prices). Slimane's directive is surely to infuse the storied house with fresh spirit, the kind of youthful joie de vivre to challenge longtime fans while attracting new ones. Nothing wrong with young and fun. But even by those standards, this collection fell short. Let's turn to the photos to illustrate six degrees of Saint Laurent Fall 2013, moving away from the original spirit of the house to its current incarnation. 1st degree (above): Recognizable YSL with the playful Peter Pan collar, and chic black and white palette. Call it YSL with punked up twist—Catherine Deneuve's Belle de Jour en route to Le Baron. 2nd degree (below): This textural coat is easily the most elegant piece in the show. The sparkly black mini dress, however, offers a stronger clue as to the true direction of the collection.
3rd degree: A grunge party girl look, with a California beachy boho vibe. (Could the previous sentence be fashion fridge poetry?) The plaid jacket became a recurring theme.
4th degree: Perhaps the most emblematic look of the collection. But do young women really want to dress like this, when for a similar price point, they could choose Givenchy, Isabel Marant or Proenza Schouler (to name a few) instead?
5th degree: The fur coat is one of the wearable pieces highlighted by those who gave this collection an easier break for its commercial/retail possibilities. The coat would be the standout of this look.
6th degree: Years ago, my friend Jennifer and I watched a documentary on Yves Saint Laurent. There was one scene which showed models on the streets of Paris in the early '70s wearing his black coats—slim, perfectly tailored with jaunty gold buttons. There was something about that scene, the beauty of the coats, the joy of the models in the sun, YSL himself, still young and with so many wonderful collections ahead of him, that made both of us tear up a little. It was a rare example of true elegance.
And then there's this look. Saint Laurent Fall 2013—a collection to elicit tears of a different sort.
Slideshow: Saint Laurent Fall 2013: 20 runway looks
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