After four weeks of shows, we've finally reached the end of spring 2013 season and it definitely closed out with a bang. For months, the industry had been buzzing about the arrival of the popular designers at two of the biggest fashion houses in the world, Raf Simons at Dior and Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent. Both the same age, 44, and they established their careers roughly at the same time. We call it a "Paris Face Off" and it was the talk of the town.
Raf Simon - DiorThe show was held in a vast white cube that had been erected on one side of the Hotel National des Invalides, practically at the doorstep of Napoleon's tomb. Inside, the space was divided into more intimate rooms, with bright lighting, white carpeting and pastel-curtained windows placed randomly in the walls so that guests could see into the neighboring rooms. Simon's collection broke free from the past (both Dior and his own) with clothes that had freedom of movement, creating new shapes and jackets, some based on a tuxedo, that were long enough to be worn as coats. And he created short dresses with a combination of electric and pastel colors, some made of a fabric that looked like cellophane. The reviews are in and they were exceptional, "well worth every drop of anticipation and every second of the wait" and "a triumph of 21st century modernism." Retailers who had never carried the line have been sending him notes asking for appointments. The show was a total success! Simons wiped away the gloom left by John Galliano's unceremonious exit, but also because, as the critics said, he understood the vision of Christian Dior and interpreted it in his own modern way.
In the months, before the show, he changed the name of the house from YSL to Saint Laurent, designed a new logo and, most controversially, decided to base his studio in Los Angeles, rather than the Paris Atelier. Of course, intrigue and mystery has always surrounded the house of Saint Laurent since its founding in the early 1960's. The show, held in a black-swathed gallery in the rafters of the Grand Palais, the setting was very dark. Slimane's look echoed the sort of bohemian chic of long caftans, peasant blouses, frilly bows, tiered skirts and fringed jackets that Mr. Saint Laurent designed in the 1970's. His fellow designers praised the collection for being "very Saint Laurent" and retailers appeared enthusiastic about the collection. But the collection was not entirely well received. Although Slimane's signature skinny suits were there, in the form of tuxedos the collection was not what critics expected, some compared it to the style of Rachel Zoe, a Hollywood stylist. Of course, she was totally flattered and wanted to wear every piece from his collection. Despite what the critics thought, we loved the collection, it was youthful, classic, and electric.
The collection was at its best! We loved it, when it moved from black and white into denim and Technicolor with red-checked baseball-style jackets, printed shirt dresses in an oversize silhouette and beach playwear in shades of cobalt and violet. And who couldn't miss the over-sized accessories, the circle Chanel bags were to die for, Karl Lagerfeld was at the top of his game.