Days ago, just before Easter, I came across a picture of Marilyn Manson in what appeared to be a Saint Laurent ad. I was partly shocked, partly in denial so I moved on. Today I forcefully became aware of the reality I wasn’t allowing myself to acknowledge days earlier: Marilyn Manson is, indeed, part of the Spring Summer 2013 Saint Laurent Paris Ad Campaign.
There’s more: also starring in the same campaign are Courtney Love, Kim Gordon, Ariel Pink. All shot by Hedi Slimane, biensur. The grand Yves Saint Laurent has never been a rock’n’roll stranger, having dressed the iconic Mick Jagger for his wedding to Bianca. But this is a tad too much, though. This is like working too much on a potentially inspiring concept – exhausting the inspiration and transgressing into obsession.
And I’m saying that with a rock’n’roll heart. I’m saying that as one who used to listen to a lot of Sonic Youth, Marilyn Manson and Nirvana back in the day. I’m saying that as one who used to think the highest of Hedi Slimane and his artistic vision. His black&white portraits were striking, they rocked. They were iconic. Now he unleashed all his ideas upon his return at Yves Saint Laurent, wanting no more from the old YSL but more from the new SLP. Hedi’s SLP. I wish he had just teased us with his obsessions instead of allowing them to take over.
I do respect his approach. But he slipped there. This Spring Summer 2013 grunge-y campaign is like a musical history lesson for the younger generation all in appealing to the old values. But who cares about the old values anymore? The fashion population, all snobbish and youth-obsessed – will they pay respect to this wrinkle-full campaign? As iconic as the characters within may be, would the fashion population stick to Hedi’s side? Would they rather flee the ship in a ratty fraternity against the old and the wrinkled? Would they still say that we’re too old to understand the new Saint Laurent appeal, like they did after the grunge fashion show Hedi threw on the catwalk weeks ago?
As creative and as innovative as mr Slimane may be, he’s in charge of a brand. The image of the label weights heavily on his shoulders and the drastic changes of aesthetic direction may not be as popular as he’d expect. It’s clearly a risk he’s willing to take as he keeps on taking the raucous grunge path to fashion recognition. But I’m certain he did so while keeping an eye on the trends studies and the stylists and statisticians conclusions and projections. Hedi Slimane is, thus, cleaning the image of rock’n’roll. He’s polishing the grunge. He’s taking the checkered shirts, the seemingly unwashed appearance and the converse sneakers and replacing them with ‘Le Smoking’, with immaculate, impeccable collared shirts, fancy bling, posh fur coats and glamorous footwear.
Where’s the grunge in all that? Where’s the real rock’n roll free spirit? Where’s the true rock democracy and creative rebellion? I’m sure my rant won’t touch mr Slimane in eons, and I’m also convinced I’m speaking on behalf of the ‘ancient’ generation who used to live and believe in grunge and rock’n roll: this is not who we were. This is not who we are. This is as rock-authentic as Betsey Johnson’s pink dresses. No! You know what? There’s more rock’n roll in a streak of Betsey Johnson’s pink hair than in all the stitches of Saint Laurent Paris’ new aesthetic!