Hedi Slimane has been relatively mum since he left Saint Laurent in April 2016, save for strongly-worded court filings in the two lawsuits he initiated against his former employer and its parent company, Kering. Now, however, he is speaking out to Luke Leitch for Italian Vogue, largely about the allure of Los Angeles (which he calls home), the photo subjects (he is working exclusively on photography at the moment), and whether or not he will return to fashion (“Going back to design will always be an option, as long as I stay loyal to my principles, and keep protecting the integrity of my work.”).
Here are some interesting excerpts (via BoF) ...
Luke Leitch: How do you go about choosing who you shoot? What compels you to photograph someone?
Hedi Slimane: I am rather attracted by the uniqueness of each of them, the charming, alluring and magic world they all built for themselves. I presume I see it as a sacred and scintillating ritual they all perform every second of their lives. With a simple photograph, I try to capture the sparkling dust of this enchanting practice, preserve it, make sure there is a memory for it. Most of the time, the characters I depict are unaware of this whimsical quality, the spirit of freedom — they just live their lives with a reckless insouciance.
LL: Whether in Paris, London, Berlin or now LA you become profoundly embedded in your places of work. And often — although not exclusively — that connection is made through music...
HS: Music is the syntax behind my style in photography, but also behind all of my fashion design for the past 20 years. I was six years old, and the only thing I knew besides Grimm Brothers fairy tales was David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane period, Angie from the Stones, and Elvis in his gold suit singing Suspicious Minds. Album covers became a vortex of inspiration, as I was mesmerised by the glitters and decadent promises of the stage.
LL: You moved to LA in 2007. With the exception of the Oscars, that city was barely on the radar of the fashion industry back then. Now it’s a completely different story — French and American houses are regular visitors to show events at the city and the aesthetic of LA’s style vernacular (in a great part thanks to you) has become globally recognisable and aspired to. Do you have any feelings about that?
HS: I started to come to Los Angeles in '97. I was escaping Paris in February and July to start designing all my collections, and did this for all the Dior Homme collections, until 2007, permanently moving to California. Before I had a home, I used to stay for months at the Chateau Marmont which typically was a really different place then, very private, filled with young actors or directors living there all year around. No social media at the time — it was private and had the authentic feel and dusty glamour of old Hollywood. Los Angeles changed a lot over the last few years.
For an obscure reason, there was such an uproar when I decided to design from Los Angeles. In 2011, there was clearly a condescending and abrasive attitude in the industry toward Los Angeles and California. I was nonetheless convinced of the growing influence California would have in popular culture, music and art, and for obvious reasons even more so with the rise of social medias. Why not design from here and define an aesthetic around California? LA felt like the most vibrant and relevant observatory at the time.