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Designer Spotlight on Hedi Slimane

Hedi Slimane is one of those characters that was born to lead a life in fashion. Since discovering photography at the age of eleven he has gone on to work with many of the biggest labels in fashion, and to mould many of them to his liking in the process. In changing the aesthetic of some of the influential brands for whom he has worked, Hedi Slimane can be credited with altering the entire face of menswear. It was he who popularised the skinny silhouette that has completely taken over the world of men’s fashion in the past fifteen-or-so years. This even prompted Karl Lagerfeld to lose weight just so that he could fit into his designs.

The French designer is also well known for his photography, having famously documented rock star, Pete Doherty and the Berlin club scene. There are few names in men’s fashion who can lay claim to such an impressive list of achievements but Hedi Slimane is most definitely one of them.

Saint Laurent
Saint Laurent

Hedi’s journey into the fashion world began at the age of sixteen when he began designing and making his own clothes. At this time Slimane didn’t have a career in the fashion industry in mind but this soon changed when he landed a job with Jean Jaques Picart at the age of 24, working on an exhibition celebrating Louis Vuitton. This massive leg-up into the industry saw Slimane working with huge names in the business, such as Vivienne Westwood and Helmut Lang. In 1995, after his work with Jean Jaques Picart, a young Hedi Slimane took arguably his biggest step as a designer when he was appointed as Menswear Director at Yves Saint Laurent – a position he held for a year before being made Menswear Artistic Director in 1996. Yves Saint Laurent himself attended Hedi’s first show and reportedly applauded loudly from the front row.

Pete Doherty
Pete Doherty

Shortly after his FW00 show, in which he introduced skinny silhouettes to the world of menswear, Slimane turned down a role as Creative Director for Jil Sander and instead announced that he had accepted a role as Creative Director for Dior’s men’s line. Slimane’s super slim designs for Dior inspired Karl Lagerfeld to lose a tremendous amount of weight, “These fashions, modelled by very, very slim boys, required me to lose at least six of my sixteen stone" Lagerfeld told the Telegraph after his dramatic weight loss. Lagerfeld’s move was a good indication of Hedi’s growing influence within the industry and of his reputation amongst the scene’s most important names.

During his time with Dior, Hedi Slimane launched the label’s first men’s fragrance and became the first menswear designer to win a CFDA for Best International Designer, which was presented to him by fan, David Bowie. The French designer’s appeal with musicians didn’t end at Bowie though and he soon became known for his links with big names, such as Pete Doherty (whom he used as a model for his photography), Mick Jagger and Jack White. He created outfits for musicians to wear on stage, earning himself something of a rock star image in the process. Before Raf Simons took the job as Dior’s Creative Director it was offered to Slimane who turned it down, choosing instead to focus on his own work. However, not long after, it was reported that he would be returning to his old employer, Yves Saint Laurent.

Slimane returned to YSL, this time as Creative Director, in 2012 where he changed the fashion house’s name to Saint Laurent Paris – something which caused some upset amongst the labels loyal fans. He held his position at Saint Laurent for four years during which he impressed his rock image onto the brand, filling stores with biker jackets, ripped jeans and grunge-inspired designs. It was just last year that Slimane resigned his position at Saint Laurent and at just 48-years-old, we’re excited to see what else he will bring to the table in years to come.

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