THE ICONOCLASTIC HEDI SLIMANE
When he's not transforming high-fashion, the YSL creative director documents rock legends.
by sophie o'connor
Hedi Slimane, creative director of Saint Laurent, bridged the gap between fashion and music. His obsessive love of indie rock and his fascination with music’s wild side has forever inspired his designs and catwalk shows. During his seven years at Dior Homme he revolutionalised the traditional version of menswear; introducing the skinny tailored aesthetic that he became famous for. His collection of cropped jackets and super tight trousers, favoured by the rock star elite of the era, was met with critical acclaim.
In keeping with his raw taste Slimane preferred to street cast for his shows, favouring thin and androgynous looking young men; the more obscure looking the better. The sculpted male Adonis, popularised during the late 80s and early 90s, was replaced by a gaunt, straggly teenager; the radical designer had also transformed the catwalk.
Hedi Slimane, once influenced by rock stars, soon found himself in demand by those very same people, as the likes of Daft Punk, David Bowie, Mick Jagger and Pete Doherty had him design their stage wear. Even Karl Lagerfeld, so desperate to be dressed in Slimane's creations, embarked on a rapid weight loss scheme, losing 6 of his 16 stone to fit his mould.
During his fashion hiatus following his departure from Dior, Slimane pursued his other love, photography, embarking on his 15 year journey (to date of course) capturing candid portraits of young, dishevelled musicians and their fans. Guitar and cigarette in hand and sweaty, sex stained clothing, his online photo diary could be stills from an epic three day bender. From New York, California and London Slimane extensively documented the disenfranchised youth like no other. He captured the Libertines during their heyday when they still had the holy trifecta of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. He photographed Amy Winehouse and Lou Reed months before their deaths, preserving them forever in his epic album. Emerging star Sky Ferreira, his recent muse, was propelled to cult star status thanks to him.
Exposing his more tender side, Slimane cemented his photographer status this year with his series of photographs taken at Elvis Presley’s home. The simplicity of his photos, in terms of the subject matter and composition, stands in stark contrast to his recognised ‘rock star’ work. In these images there is a sense of sadness and poignancy that was not necessarily obvious in the rest of Slimane’s images.
A selection of Hedi Slimane’s finest images are currently on show at The Foundation Pierre Bergé Yves Saint Laurent in Paris in the Sonic exhibition. But, if you can’t make it, here are some of our favourite images.