The New York Times' former fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, who left the paper early this year, is back and she's taking on the rise of commercial fashion. Here is an excerpt from her article entitled, Sign of the Times …
I’m no fan of Slimane’s, but he’s clever. In two years as creative chief, he has barely broken a sweat as he fetches another pussy bow from the ’60s time capsule. Last year, Saint Laurent led Kering’s three biggest luxury brands in revenue growth with an 18 percent rise, beating Gucci and Bottega Veneta. He has also defeated his critics, who no doubt sensed the futility of continuing to point out that he doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to be inventive. (In my own case, he banned me from Saint Laurent’s runway shows when I was this newspaper’s critic.) As Tim Blanks wrote last season on Style.com, “There is no longer any shock of the whatever in what he is offering.”
So why write about Slimane now? Here’s why: If you accept that fashion reflects the times — and I do — then you have to concede that in this respect Slimane has been impressive, even prescient. His Saint Laurent collections perfectly capture the mood and values of the present. The need for simple messages. The triumph of branding. The shortening of horizons due to economic factors. The lack of prejudice toward old ideas, especially among young consumers. I would never expect any designer to own up to such pessimistic motives. But neither do I assume that Slimane, with his gift for marketing, hasn’t thought about them.
For the fall collections, it was intriguing to see how many designers fell in line with Slimane and offered straightforward clothes of their own. I’m thinking, for instance, of Céline’s ’40s-style coats, the tasteful sweater-and-skirt looks at Bottega Veneta and Altuzarra’s classic wrap coats. Being the genius that he is, Karl Lagerfeld at once mocked and praised commerce, presenting Chanel in a post-Warhol supermarket and sending out perky tracksuits, the ultimate fashion commodity. I imagine they’ll be a hit.