Despite what you may have heard or more likely, read, about Hedi Slimane's muse and fit model for the Fall/Winter 2014 Saint Laurent collection, it may not be as it seems. Sure, Saint Laurent tweeted that 16-year old Grace Hartzel (who is signed with Next in New York, Paris, Milan and London) was their exclusive girl for the season. However, a day later, Hartzel was spotted in the Chanel Shopping Centre (aka she walked the runway for Chanel's supermarket-themed F/W 2014 show). Making her a semi-exlusive? But that's not the only thing.
I think it is safe to say that we have all become accustomed to Slimane casting at least some of his "exclusives" from relative obscurity, like Prada; but instead of coming from Germany or Poland, the kids come from Los Angeles, where they were more likely than not playing in bands. This was certainly the case for Fletcher and Wyatt Shears, who went from playing gigs with their band, The Garden, in Orange County, California to walking the runway in Paris for two seasons, playing the Saint Laurent party, and then starring in the house's Fall/Winter 2013 ad campaign. Rexx Osterkamp, a friend and former bandmate of the Shears', has a nearly exact story, except that his ad campaign is Spring/Summer 2014. Louise Parker, a Minnesota native who had walked in 3 small shows before landing an exclusive gig with Saint Laurent, shares a similar experience.
We are also fairly used to Slimane putting new faces in his ultra-skinny cigarette pants, leather miniskirts and baby doll dresses, but again, with Hartzel in mind, this isn't the case. A quick look at models.com reveals that Hartzel has been around for awhile. Her first job listed on the site is Theyskens Theory's February 2012 show. However, another source claims her first show was Raf Simons' Dior couture debut in July 2012. Since she made her non-Saint Laurent debut, the Zionsville, Indiana native, who now resides in New York, has gone on to walk for just about everyone (from Marc Jacobs, Margiela, Oscar de la Renta, and Louis Vuitton to J. Crew!). Most recently, Hartzel has walked for Saint Laurent for the past three seasons and has been walking consistently for Chanel since S/S 2013, as well. She was even in Chanel's Dallas, Texas-based Pre-Fall 2014 show. So, long story short: she wasn't all that "exclusive" and a new face she is not. What's going on at Saint Laurent, a house that has in the past (even as recently as this past men's collection) placed such an emphasis on casting.
While the casting was still largely on point for Fall, it seems that Slimane may have put his scouting of brand new faces aside for one season and spent a bit more time on the collection itself, which is receiving considerably great reviews. Vogue's Sarah Mower wrote: "[Slimane's] doing very well. This season’s runway was packed with great product, in-depth on every level—as long as you like wearing short." Suzy Menkes said, "The rejuvenated Saint Laurent girl has arrived in fashion." Further writing: "There was something charming about the clothes." Maybe the highest praise, however, came from the Financial Times, whose shrewd critic Vanessa Friedman is arguably one of the few shining lights in the largely compromised state of fashion journalism. Friedman wrote: "What came out was one of the canniest, most unabashedly commercial collections of Paris Fashion Week thus far ... in its clear calculation, it made almost every other collection feel naive by comparison."
I can't help but wonder what Ms. Horyn would have written.