Much like an unfamiliar domestic engine in a foreign car, when a label loses it's famed designer it usually flubs and fails. Unless you're Sarah Burton chiming in for the late Alexander McQueen and Hedi Slimane stepping in after Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent. Both designers understand that designing in an already established house is more about taking an aesthetic and reinterpreting that energy for people to continue in their support. Not that easy to do unless you are these two.
Burton, McQueen's right hand woman for years, understands that the McQueen woman sort of connects to the art of fashion like a moth to a flame. Her Spring 2013 collection was a masterfully tailored collection chock full of the fabric innovations and erotic references that a McQueen collection is known for. The shapely bell silhouettes and the fetishized petticoats had both otherworldly and hyper-feminine connotations all under an umbrella of sublime craftsmanship and deceptively light yet ornately textured textile embellishments. What was nice was that there was a kind of period theme, as there always is with a McQueen show, but it wasn't overshadowing; the clothes still remained inspired, bar-raising and decadently wearable for those 'on-the-scene' admirers.
Slimane, the man who reinvented the way we dressed ten years ago, lent his visionary aesthetic to Saint Laurent Paris, formerly Yves Saint Laurent. The outcome? A very effective launch. While many may have wanted him to reinvent as he did at Dior Homme years ago, Slimane chose to reignite the spirit of what made Saint Laurent a great name; chic Parisian ready to wear that evoked strength and played with feminine gender role. The much anticipated collection he showed for Spring 2013 was feminine in cut with the strength and mystique of the commanding 70's glam YSL woman and bits of early Hedi here and there. However, there are two important things to remember here, a) this is not Dior Homme and b) this is his first EVER womenswear collection. There should always be room left to see how he further develops his YSL woman on top of what's already established. Overall, it was a wearable collection and while he didn't reinvent the wheel, he did capture the spirit of the classic Saint Laurent woman's desire to remain feminine, evoke strength and command attention due to an insightful eclectic statement more than blatant embellishment.
*Photos Courtesy of Style.com.