I Bought $700 Shoes Because The Label Spoke To Me, And I'm Not The Only One

How Hedi Slimane is killing it with the new re-branded Saint Laurent line. And how you, too, can dress like the new cool girl.
Publish date:
May 7, 2013
yves saint laurent, heidi slimane

Last year PPR (now Kering), the holding company for luxury fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, announced that Los Angeles-based designer Hedi Slimane would be taking the reins for the venerable label. The media swooned and everyone in the fashion world waited anxiously for what the man responsible for “skinny suiting” would bring to the table.

He changed the name, dropping the “Yves” and re-branding the label in a one-word coup. No longer would Yves Saint Laurent be affectionately called YSL, and no longer would there be an intertwining of those three letters on everything from shoes to handbags and labels. The new name, Saint Laurent (or Saint Laurent Paris in long form), and the accompanying simple stamped logo, angered people.

However, the media gave him the benefit of the doubt and were eager to see his debut collection for the house last October during Paris Fashion Week.

What happened next was even more unpredictable. Slimane basically gave the fashion crowd the finger by seating his friends first row, while giving standing room to editors at national magazines and papers. He even banned a certain New York Times critic, whom he personally disliked.

What came down the runway was different and very surprising for a French luxury brand. There were lots of oversized fedoras, silk bows, skinny pants, maxi dresses and fur capelets. Most critics lamented it was too LA. I live in Los Angeles -- is that supposed to be an insult or a compliment? OK, I know the answer to that.

While editors and fans lamented, buyers for retailers such as Neiman Marcus, Jeffrey New York and Barney’s New York were seeing success. It was a much more wearable and pliable collection. Ken Downing, the fashion director at Neiman Marcus even called it “the new cool girl’s uniform.”

Slimane’s next collection for the brand early this year drew even harsher criticism and comparisons to Courtney Love. Think baby doll dresses, ripped tights and mussed up hair. So what did Slimane do next? He put Courtney Love in new Saint Laurent ads, along with Marilyn Manson, effectively giving the critics two middle fingers.

However, despite all the drama, Twitter fights and criticism, only one thing mattered: Would this shit sell? Well, according to a recent New York Times article, and my own independent trolling at Saint Laurent and Barney’s in Beverly Hills, the answer is yes. It is selling, and selling well.

I’m a fashion blogger, not a look-at-me-pose fashion blogger (not that there is anything wrong with that, as I look at a lot of fashion bloggers who pose), but a blogger who loves fashion, writes about it earnestly, follows fashion news feverishly and occasionally poses when someone pays her to.

So for me, this Saint Laurent/Hedi Slimane drama has been wildly entertaining -- like a reunion episode on Bravo. Plus, I’m a naturally argumentative person, so Slimane’s unabashed confidence in his vision and his ability to shock and upset people has had me secretly rooting for him from behind my keyboard.

However, it wasn’t until a recent trip to Saks that I saw Saint Laurent personally. And let me tell you, I fell hard.

Like some have been saying, what Slimane is presenting on the runway is a vision, a reinvention of an iconic brand and an embrace of a new youth culture that has the ability to drive sales and set trends.

It’s a little messy, a little like Love and Manson, but it’s still luxurious. That new simple gold-foil logo is the chicest thing I’ve seen since my first Audrey Hepburn film. The shoes were posh, refined, made for a lady and were mine with a credit card swipe.

When I told my mother that I bought a pair of bright yellow pumps because the logo on the inside spoke to me, she asked me if I was stupid.

“No one can see the logo when you put your foot in the shoe, you know that, right?" she said.

“I don’t care,” I replied. “I know it’s there, and it completes my life.”

Like I said, I’m a fashion aficionado, and consider many pieces I own as art. I’m not even a shoe person (I prefer bags), but the logo, quality and minimalistic details just spoke to me. What would possess me to drop almost $700 (after taxes) on a simple pair of shoes?

I swear, it was that logo. When I asked the sales associate how the new line was doing, he responded, “Amazing, it’s flying off the shelves, people are obsessed with the logo. We still get a few upset customers, but for the most part they’re selling like hot-cakes.”

OK, so I’m not crazy. This logo is speaking to women. Slimane’s designs are speaking to women.

These shoes are probably the only thing I will own from Saint Laurent for the next decade (and I will cherish them), but that doesn’t mean I can’t browse. I ventured into the Saint Laurent store on Rodeo Drive, and crawled into a few of the clothes.

Even the sales associates look different now. Before, it was all suits and ties, now it’s skinny mini dresses, and slightly unbuttoned shirts. It’s like a grown-up Abercrombie. Even the hangers are chic: engraved, black, wood-grain wood.

My favorite piece was a leather jacket and oversized tote, aptly called “Sac du Jour.” It’s an everyday bag, with a $3,000 price tag that I’m considering selling my kidney for (and I need that kidney, I have Lupus).

Leather jackets, leather vests, leather-trimmed dresses, leather trimmed skirts and amazing accessories that are all so simple they almost seem complicated. And I have some picks for you, which -- believe it or not -- was the ultimate goal of this long, gossip-filled and slightly indulgent post.

So, without further ado: how you, too, can dress like a cool girl.

When spending your rent on fashion, it’s best to stick to basics.

Saint Laurent Paris

(Top Left to Bottom Right)

Diamond Waisted Jersey & Leather Dress

Silk Muslin Black & Beige Skater Skirt

Pin Dot Foulard Blouse

Escaparin Pump in White Dove Leather

Smoking Spencer Jacket, Black Wool

Classic Sac de Jour

Some comparable pieces at a lower price point:

A great leather panel dress can take you from work to drinks.

Jersey Leather Dress, Vanessa Bruno, $206

To me, animal print is a basic. It should be for you too.

Animal Print Swing Skirt, Charles Henry, $134

Don’t be afraid to rock that print!

Silk Blouse, Karl Lagerfeld, $119

I actually own these white court shoes from TopShop. Super comfortable and chic!

White Pumps, Topshop, $116

A great tux jacket is a must. Wear over a dress, with jeans or to complete a suit.

Mossimo Tuxedo Jacket, Target, $29.99

A classic black tote is another piece that can take you places—in this instance, from the boardroom to a vacation.

MAB Tote, Rebecca Minkoff, $295

So tell me, what do you think about the new logo for Saint Laurent? Have you purchased any of the new items? Are you in love like me? I would love to hear your thoughts.