Saturday 25 January 2020

Paul Galvin: The comeback kid

Paul Galvin

As musical chairs play out in the fashion world, Paul Galvin focuses on the return of Hedi Slimane, who put the skinny into the indie rocker's uniform

Hedi Slimane it back. Just like Scholes, Henry and Girls Aloud. 'Tis the season for comebacks, after all, and fashion's most enigmatic, elusive and elegant men's designer is back.

Stefano Pilati's turbulent but successful reign at YSL is over and the man who revolutionised menswear by redefining the male silhouette has returned.

Season after season, from 2000 to 2007 at Dior Homme, Paris-born designer and photographer Hedi turned menswear to money.

From skinny ties, neat collars and fitted sleeves in 2002, to playing with leather and textures in 2003, to trench coats, double-breasted blazers and man bags in 2006/2007, Dior Homme was dressing everyone who was anyone in the world of fashion and music.

Indie rock in particular found a new uniform -- skinny suits and boots. Johnny Borrell of Razorlight, the skinniest indie rocker of them all, penned one of my favourite songs 'In the Morning' especially for a Dior Homme fashion show.

So Hedi not only identified a new style of dress, he also created a new culture. A culture that embraced the skinny man and placed him at the heart of indie-rock music through a camera lens.

Now, he's ready to dress us again.

For Stefano Pilati, a new opportunity will surely come along. Following his story, I can't help but feel he sacrificed himself a lot in the name of commercial success.

Some designers struggle with such demands. This man is something of a rarity among modern designers in that he's selfless and appears to be devoid of any ego.

His time at YSL was an ongoing battle between answering to his own creative vision for the brand and answering to the commercial vision of the brand's all-powerful CEO Paul Deneve.

Ultimately, Stefano's reign must be judged as a success. His patent-leather bags, in particular, have been a huge seller, and his flair for accessories in general has seen them outsell the clothing lines at times.

His spring/summer 2012 menswear collection -- his last, as it turned out -- is available at Brown Thomas.

Stefano's eye for the YSL heritage was never far from any collection, and his interpretation of Yves Saint Laurent's cotton reefer jacket from his 1966 spring/summer collection is available at BTs, a rare piece that's worth every penny.

So Hedi returns and may toughen up the brand from Stefano's softer approach.

It seems to be all swings and roundabouts in fashion lately; hiring and firing, musical chairs, comebacks here and vacancies there.

Raf Simons has surprisingly moved on from Jil Sander to be replaced by, cough, Jil Sander. Christophe Lemaire leaves Lacoste to join Hermes.

Through it all the Dior debate rages on. Surely such reluctance to appoint a new boss is a strategic ploy? Each week comes a new name and more oxygen for the brand in magazines and websites. The saga runs and runs.

It's been months since John Galliano's dismissal. Riccardo Tisci, Alber Elbaz, Peter Dundas and Raf Simons have all been mentioned in dispatches.

For me, there is only one man for the job. The position requires a worldly man. A man who's seen it all. A man as comfortable in his own skin as he is in a designer suit.

It's gotta be 'arry, innit? Harry Redknapp for Dior.

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