Since Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane took the creative reins at Dior and Saint Laurent, respectively, the fashion press has been trying to paint them as rivals. Not so fast, says style.com guest columnist Markus Ebner. The Achtung magazine founder, who has followed both men since the beginning of their careers, argues that they are less competitors than joint leaders of a new design generation. As Simons prepares to make his Dior Couture debut next week, Ebner charts the connection between these two innovators.
Hedi Slimane, Raf Simons are not rivals but brothers in innovation
Fashion loves a rivalry. Unforgettable are the days when Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld used to battle it out to be fashion’s number one in Paris. Journalist Alicia Drake spun a whole book out of this circumstance called The Beautiful Fall. It is still a must-read on the goings-on of fashion in the French capital in the sixties and seventies. At the moment, the international fashion press seems hell-bent on creating the same type of rivalry between Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane.
This idea has surfaced in articles on the nomination of both designers to their new jobs at Dior and YSL, respectively. The key one was penned in April by the influential critic Suzy Menkes of the International Herald Tribune, who got the succession at Saint Laurent wrong one year ago when she predicted Simons going to YSL. Cathy Horyn, the fashion critic from IHTstable mate The New York Times and a longtime Simons champion, also shares the idea of a battle between the two. To enforce the rivalry point, Menkes even suggests in her story that Slimane took his lead from Simons at the end of the nineties, when both were working on their signature slick tailoring silhouette. And yet, in her show reviews of Dior Homme in the first half of the last decade, she always celebrated Slimane as an originator.
Now everyone from Le Monde’s magazine M in France to the blogs are jumping on the rivalry idea. I would like to make a point that Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons are not rivals but are united by being the leaders of a new generation of designers. They are much more ambassadors of a new approach to fashion, of seeing the bigger picture versus one dress or a piece of fabric. Sure, it’s tempting and headline-making to pit them against each other now that they’re helming two of Paris’ most prestigious houses, but it does them a disservice.
First of all, they were friends at the start of their careers and would have a glass of wine together in Paris every now and then. From the very beginning, Slimane has stood for a stylized reality. When I moved back to Berlin from New York to start Achtung, he had already mined the best of the German capital’s visual arsenal and published a book with Steidl called Berlin. The book featured fantastic photos of young punks and wasted youth all in black-and-white. At the time, Slimane would go to music and nightclubs to find his models for Dior Homme. All of Berlin talked about these famous casting sessions and most kids and young male models hoped to be chosen. Meanwhile, Raf Simons was finding a lot of inspiration in Berlin. He even named his first company Detlef after a character from the teen drug movie Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo. So these designers are informed by the same cultural signposts but have a different approach in filtering them.
Both are members of the postmodern movement, a generation that grew up just before the Internet revolution. But they’re still young enough to be comfortable finding inspiration in a myriad of cultural interests that they source from the Web. Let’s not forget, Saint Laurent had to get on a plane to go to Studio 54 and see what was happening there. –style.com + photos
Say Goodbye To ‘Yves Saint Laurent’, Welcome ‘Saint Laurent Paris’
And talking about Yves Saint Laurent and Hedi Slimane, millionlooks.com posted that: The new creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane, is changing the name of the brand to Saint Laurent Paris as part of his makeover for the label. The new name will become legal in a few months and Slimane’s first collection for the fashion house (spring/summer 2013) will already be released under a new name.
Hedi Slimane, who took over from Stefano Pilati at the position in March this year, is planning to ‘give the brand a modern revamp, while still capturing the components that inspired its founder’s Saint Laurent Rive Gauche ready-to-wear line in 1994 – youth, freedom and modernity.’ –millionlooks.com + photo