It was quite the scene at the Palladium concert hall on Sunset Boulevard on February 10th when Hedi Slimane transported his Saint Laurent spectacular to his beloved City of Angels. Bottle blonde Justin Bieber brought his skateboard, and Sly Stallone brought his daughters. Ellen DeGeneres cozied up with Sam Smith, and Gaga, in a gold sequin bomber and golden glitter-rimmed Groucho Marx glasses, bounded across the wide dance-floor runway to greet Courtney Love, wearing a slip of molten pewter lamé that placed her breasts very much on view. An ageless Jane Fonda (how could she be 78?) worked a high-rise French pleat and an appropriately star-spangled tux; Lenny Kravitz rocked a beaded breastplate; Asia Chow wore a denim jacket over a frothy tulle prom dress; and Mark Ronson opted for shocking pink.
Slimane has made Los Angeles his base since 2008 (he moved his studio here four years later), and he has continued to channel the city’s quirky vintage, polished grunge and rock ’n’ roll vibe into his Saint Laurent collections ever since—just as Yves Saint Laurent himself had Marrakech, Morocco’s pink adobe city where the legendary couturier was rejuvenated and inspired when he discovered that city’s flamboyant color mixes, mind-altering substances, and a whole new hippie de luxe perspective on style. So it was an exciting prospect to be invited to step into Slimane’s world and discover why he fell for Los Angeles’s seductive style when he decided to show his Fall 2016 men’s collection, and Part I of his women’s (Part II will be unveiled in Paris later this fashion season) at the storied Palladium. Steeped in Tinseltown legend, it was built in high Hollywood Moderne style on the site of an old Paramount lot, and opened in 1940 with Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra performing with the 24-year-old vocalist Frank Sinatra.
Slimane bathed the concert hall’s curvaceous ceiling moldings and balconies in flaming orange light and framed the various bands’ equipment against a charming “Hollywoodland” backdrop of spindly palm trees, delicately painted in white-on-black by 18-year-old Lucia Ribisi (daughter of the actor Giovanni Ribisi). The 93-look collection also celebrated the 50th anniversary of Yves Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche collection, and the looks paid subtle homage to his legacy. The girls, stomping out to PyPy’s “She’s Gone,” were all dressed in the sort of midi-length skirts or culottes and Victoriana dresses favored by Loulou de La Falaise at the cusp of the ’70s, complete with the broad belts, shrunken jackets, or Berber capes she wore with them. The looks also evoked Jane Fonda’s fabulous wardrobe as the high-class call girl in Alan J. Pakula’s style-saturated 1971 movie, Klute (so did hairdresser Didier Malige’s choppy shag-cuts). The glam rock touches—like lightning bolt embroideries and peaked shoulders—suggested David Bowie’s powerfully influential Ziggy Stardust costumes.
The asparagus-lean boys, meanwhile, wore Slimane’s signature sprayed-on jeans, or skinny-cut pants with a military stripe down the side, and elaborately embellished Hussar jackets, like the antique ones once coveted by the likes of Mick Jagger and Stephen Tyler, Jimi Hendrix (many of the looks were styled with no-pictures-please rock star sunglasses). There were velvets and brocades, and jabots and fedoras, and jackets bespangled with Parisian embroideries, all put together to suggest the iconic look of that quintessential Los Angeleno, the fashion rocker and NBA enthusiast James Goldstein. The collection was a love letter to the city Slimane adores. “That was a piece of art in every way,” opined Jeffrey Deitch, who should know art when he sees it. “There’s a lot for me to work with!” laughed Lenny Kravitz.
After the usually reclusive Slimane took his bow (in a ruby velvet jacket, with Oscar Wilde–length hair), the dance floor was mobbed by junior beauties. I didn’t know there were so many cute, hip people in Los Angeles.
Then the benches were cleared and the stage was ignited by Father John Misty—the first of 11 performers, each doing three or four songs. Beck followed (casual), and then Joan Jett took to the stage in a spangled red catsuit and a fistful of punk attitude, and she brought the house down with “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll.” “Thank you, Hedi, for making such beautiful clothes!” shouted Jett, and the crowd roared.