Hedi Slimane's First St. Laurent Collection Wows Retailers, Disappoints Press
Oct 04, 2012 - by Emily Draznik
There is truly a difference in the reception a collection gets between commercial retailers like Nordstrom and Barneys New York and the fashion press. This rings especially true to Hedi Slimane's somewhat controversial first St. Laurent presentation. While heads of commercial retailers and bloggers gave the collection more positive reviews, the fashion press was not as satisfied.
Hedi Slimane of previous Dior Homme fame was made head of Yves Saint Laurent last spring and his first collection showed to an excited crowd of fashion journalists and industry tastemakers at Paris Fashion Week last Monday night.
Unfortunately to Slimane's distaste, the collection closed to a slightly unenthused crowd. While the heads of commercial retailers like Barneys New York and Nordstrom raved about how well the collection would sell, fashion journalists like New York Times reporter Cathy Horyn were less than impressed.
"I loved it", stated executive vice president of Nordstrom, Pete Nordstorm to Women's Wear Daily. "We were very encouraged by what we saw. It was definitely one of the highlights of the week.
Barneys New York had a similar viewpoint. Barneys chief executive Mark Lee told WWD, "there was a unanimous and spontaneous love from all the Barneys team members immediately after the [Saint Laurent] show.
Bergdorf Goodman and Harrod's department stores shared similar opinions as Nordstrom and Barneys. Overall, the heads of high-end retailers appeared to be playing for Team Hedi.
Those that were not were a little more vocal about their disappointment. Cathy Horyn of the New York Times has been making headlines this Paris Fashion Week when she was first barred from attending the St. Laurent show and second with her less than positive review based on the digital images. Hedi Slimane then responded via Twitter calling Horyn a "schoolyard bully".
While the fashion director of The Telegraph Lisa Armstrong agreed with the retailers that the line was "very commercial", the statement did not share the positive tone that Barneys and Nordstrom had. The press overall were expecting more from the designer and while the collection would be a safe decision to be a commercial success, Lisa went on to say, Crucially, what was lacking was the frisson of the unexpected that challenging jolt that only a really strong show delivers.
The overall distaste from the press may come from St. Laurent's less than welcoming attitude towards journalists. The invitation process excluded many editors from the presentation and made many of those invited stand. Calls were also made stating that Slimane would not be taking questions backstage. Cathy Horyn called this, "out of touch".
So while St. Laurent strived to make the commercial retailers feel welcome, it seems as if relations with the press took a back seat and what a mistake that was. With so much talk swirling around Slimane's reaction to the less than satisfactory reviews (many editors will most likely not be in attendance next season as a result), this can only add fuel to the power of the negative press. It goes to show that regardless of how your collection is going to sell, bad press is still bad press.