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Just what is going on inside Hedi’s head?

A couple of weeks ago you might have come across a mild moan in this column about how overtly commercial some London Fashion Week designers’ collections were.

It got a few people hot under the collar (read unzipped for the comments), and while I still stand by what I said, after looking at Hedi Slimane’s second womenswear collection for Saint Laurent, I have to concede that LFW’s levels of commerciality were trumped good and proper by the enigmatic Belgian.

After his damp squib of a debut collection for the house and a forgettable menswear show, the world waited for a reaction from Slimane. He gave us one, but it certainly wasn’t the one we were all expecting. The copying and pasting from the Saint Laurent archives were gone, only to be replaced by a collection so commercial it left you wondering ‘was this some kind of trick?’

The debate raged on social media, with Twitter afire with a mix of incredulity, befuddlement, sarcasm and anger. ‘All Saints Laurent’ was trending. Oh the jokes! It seemed like the collection had been a huge own goal.

But something that came out of the live SHOWstudio panel I was invited to was the idea that perhaps this was just the next piece of the puzzle in Slimane’s masterplan for Saint Laurent. In courting controversy by single-mindedly sticking to his grungy LA vibe, Slimane has got far more column inches than, say, Gucci, which is disproportionate considering Saint Laurent equates to around 7% of parent company PPR’s business, while Gucci represents 64%.

Whether his collection is set to sell well or not, to me it feel less like Slimane is on to something, strategically subverting what we think a catwalk show should be, and more like he’s stuck in a world that at once reflects what’s going on yet doesn’t inspire it.

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