If Edie Campbell didn't already exist, Hedi Slimane would surely have redirected some Kering fundage to make her in a lab somewhere. With her sullen, knowing pout and dyed black mullet, the British model embodied every last scintilla of Slimane's obsessive reconceptualization of Girls Today when she opened this evening's Saint Laurent show. And for those selfsame girls in the audience, the designer opened yet more doors to a past that unraveled when they were mere gleams in God's eye.
There is simply no underestimating the power of Things We Missed Out On. The Japanese are absolute masters—mistresses?—at turning back the clock. Maybe that's why Slimane's collection felt like an impeccably detailed capsule of the Japanese rocker chick's wardrobe: the Debbie Harry bit, the Chelsea girl, the idiosyncratic punky eleganza. And now that the initial ouch of controversy surrounding his approach to the house has faded, it's easier to see the YSL in Saint Laurent: the lip print, say, or the fabulous trench or the army jacket or the one-shouldered evening extravaganza. Fact is, Hedi's Saint Laurent now has a life in the stores, and that life is so much more generous than what he parades on his catwalk.
Which takes us back to the show as manifesto: The artist that Slimane selected as tonight's tentpole was Guy de Cointet. French, L.A.-based (sounds familiar), making work that was "lifelike and contrived" (we'll let that one lie), Cointet was little known but an influence on some major L.A. artists who followed. The music was a new remix of millennial L.A. band Liars. Slimane was responsible for the staging (breathtaking, with its mechanized light installation) and styling (more of a love-it-or-hate-it proposition, with its fried hair). There is no longer any shock of the whatever in what he is offering, but his compulsion to share his obsessions is irresistible. And there is some kind of weird charity in the way he lets you step back from the catwalk march-past and relish the context in which he presents his challenge to you. At this point, it seems inescapable that it's coming from A Place of Love.