#1114 Hedi Slimane on his own cultural significance

Photo: style.com

Hedi Slimane has just given his first interview in three years. It covers plenty of topics, from social media and its impact on the fashion world, to his favourite band du jour. First off, let me say that I’m a huge fan of Hedi Slimane’s work. Dior Homme’s Spring/Summer 06 collection was the first collection I ever looked at and thought, ‘Jesus. Who knew clothes could look this good?’ and his photographs are works of art in their own right. The guy has probably the purest aesthetic in the world, and a knack for – I was going to say – capturing the zeitgeist, but dictating the zeitgeist is probably more appropriate. In the past I’ve had a rant about Slimane’s glamourisation of Pete Doherty, and I still probably agree with what I said back then, but I’m not going to argue his cultural relevance or significance.

Neither is he.

In the style.com interview just posted today, he responds to a question about the silhouette he created, saying:

“I started to work on my silhouette since the end of my Saint Laurent years, when I had the option to pursue my own style. I also started it because it was the only thing that would fit me, to be totally honest. I became very repetitive with it over the years, as I was trying to define it accurately. I always thought it was all about repetition, and I became extremely stubborn despite my opponents and the natural aim of the fashion industry to look for something new each season. I never wanted to please, as long as I could follow my beliefs. I always and only thought about my own time and the birth of an entire generation. I heard so much about my proportions, and how absurd and unsuccessful, for instance, my skinny jeans and silhouette would be. I also heard about my lack of definition in masculinity, as I was aiming to try another definition.”


“So that it was never a “fashion comment,” as I was interacting directly, and still do on my own, with unknown musicians, artists, street casting for my shows. It was not about doing punk rock or metal when punk rock or metal had no relevance to the moment. My fashion and my style were like a random and sometimes intimate diary. Living in Berlin, I interacted with the music scene at a time when Berlin was aiming to set up an abstract and ethereal digital tone; my years in London happened to be the time when a new indie scene emerged among my friends. There were no clothes available around, so I designed them for the rest of us. These are the clothes we wanted to wear, and these are the clothes, allure, and style that ended up my own. The rest might by now be common knowledge. With Berlin becoming suddenly popular and the global indie scene explosion a few years after, my style spread accordingly. Funnily enough, when I decided to put design on hold for a minute, it was all about how skinny was dead and how men would suddenly flip in the other direction. It ended up the contrary.”


“Now, from the streets to fashion week: I still have loyal assistants at Dior. I guess my shows had a specific atmosphere. Despite the necessary press rhetoric, the silhouette is still there, but more so my style and semiotic, used as an open-source commodity. It is quite convenient for me, as I don’t have to be in the kitchen anymore.”

What interests me about Hedi Slimane’s words is that he – though quite modestly – is admitting to his ubiquitous influence. It reminds me of somebody else who, on the flip side, without much (or any) prompting, also admits to his own: Kanye West. The difference being, that when Kanye West talks about himself, it’s usually in capital letters. Hedi Slimane both intellectualises it, and buries it at the end of a very long answer about where his inspiration came from, saying, “[T]he silhouette is still there, but more so my style and semiotic, used as an open-source commodity.”

I wonder what the reaction would be to Kanye West if he took a similar approach?


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  1. Anonymous says

    I think he takes himself way too seriously. This is clothes we’re talking about here not some monumental social moment.

  2. lauren elisabeth says

    yeah but it was one monumental social ‘movement’!
    hardly ever is one trend adopted so heavily across the world buy guys and girls alike…and still to the day such a wardrobe staple.

  3. says

    I am more inclined to agree with anon, the silhouette would have swung accordingly with the pendulum. Possible a little to caught up in his own celebrity. Nevertheless, he is very articulate.

  4. says

    I’m with Lauren. The Slimane aesthetic and silhouette changed the way men the world over dress.

    Just look at skinny jeans. First just seen on the runway. Then on the cool guys, then in collections by the mid level brands, then the chain stores, until even the most conservative jocks who used to beat up the guys in skinny jeans were wearing them.

    He made it cool to be skinny!

    He deserves all the credit he gets.

    And Serah – not only is he articulate, but English is his second language!

  5. says

    I really don’t like the Kanye comparisson.

    That being said, should Kanye be able to express himself in such an eloquent matter, rather than flaunt his successes like a new pair of Vuitton, he would be a lot more tollerable.

    I think Mr Slimane has also showed that he has ideas that extend BEYOND the realm of straight up fashion, extending into broader lifestyle aspects. Some of his photographic work has even had a scientific edgem, in particular, there was one Parisian exhibition in which he explored the nature of gases and smoke through his photography.
    I would say the fact that he is able to explore all these things while maintaining a consistent aesthetic throughout gives them an air of authenticty. They feel like things he is genuinely interested in. The things he does feel thought through, edited and arranged.

    N.B. i don;t hate Mr West, i think College Dropout was a great album…I just don’t respond well to arrogance.

  6. Anonymous says

    I have a lot of respect for Hedi Slimane but really, he did like most so called ‘fashion revolutionaries’ do and that is take what is happening on the streets already and put it in the fashion pages.

    He didn’t create the skinny silhouette. it was there long before he was even a twinkle in his mother and fathers eye…

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