THE FASHION industry is that intersection where the subtle meets the extreme and the innovative meets the downright crazy. Each season, designers have to come up with new ways to stay on top of the game, making their collections and catwalk shows as theatrical as possible, ensuring their show sticks in your mind. But when does the crazy become too crazy?
There has been uproar in the fashion industry the last six months over the infamous brand Yves Saint Laurent. A fashion house that has been at the forefront of the industry, YSL was taken over by a new creative director last year called Hedi Slimane to shake things up, and by god he did. When taking over a company that is so established, it is usually a risk changing anything but Slimane went one step further and changed the brand name to Saint Laurent, a move that had many critics speechless.
Since his time in the newly named Saint Laurent, Slimane has pushed the boat out on a number of projects. For the new menswear line, he chose a very unlikely candidate to front the campaign – Marilyn Manson. As part of the latest series of ads being debuted this month – titled the Music Project – Manson and other musicians such as Courtney Love will be featured in a move that is set to ‘cement the ties with the music industry’. But why?
The fashion industry loves a challenge. It loves having something to analyse and ponder about. But did Slimane push it a bit too far? With only a year in charge of one of the biggest fashion houses on the planet, he has altered everything he can about its original form, including its name. When John Galliano took the helm at Christian Dior all those years ago, he made it his own but he still stayed respectful and truthful to its original designer, who made the line as successful as it was. So why can’t Slimane do this?
Of course, he is not the first designer to try the shock factor to get the critics talking. Back in 2012, Tom Ford edited an issue of Vogue Paris and used young girls in his Cadeaux editorial, including 10-year-old Thylane Blondeau. Many were up in arms about the way these young girls were posing and the make-up and clothing they had on. This led to a huge controversy about the use of young models and led in part to the setting up of the Vogue Health Initiative.
In a piece entitled, “Why Tom Ford was right to photograph vamped up six-year-olds,” Libby Banks of MyDaily UK wrote: “Ford has created a dialogue about the fashion industry’s attitude to age; in an industry where teenage models are encouraged to have the physique of a small child in order to promote women’s clothing, surely the next ‘logical’ step is to use a small child to model grownup fashion. It’s meant to be absurd and offensive.”
It appears that the fashion industry has bowed down to this shock factor need. No collection or show is enough without the prospect of it blowing you out of your seat and that means a bleak future for some in the industry. It will be interesting to see how critics react when the Music Project is unveiled later this month and for Slimane’s sake, hope it doesn’t go down like a lead balloon!
Photo c/o selectism.com
Until next time,