if the eighties belonged to obvious opulence under the likes of christian lacroix and thierry mugler, and the nineties to the minimalist aesthetic of miucca prada and calvin klein, it is quite surprising that in the first decade of the new millennium, the crown was passed down not to a women's wear designer, but to that of a young man who inherited the mantle by designing for initially the men's wear branch of yves saint laurent, and secondly, and more importantly, at dior homme. when hedi slimane debuted his collection for yves saint laurent in 1997, the world was to witness the beginning of a new idea that proposed a new romantic idea on masculine dressing. an idea that eventually percolated into the world of women's wear. the power dressing of the eighties with its pronounced and exaggerated silhouette of shoulder pads, tappered waist, perfectly groomed hair, athletic body, and obvious machismo was suddenly usurped with a leaner line, rakish form on skinny models, and an unapologetic homage to youth that slimane unleashed to an unsuspecting public. with the traditional values instilled into the world of the male sartorial elegance, slimane bridged the gap that came in between the spontaneity of the young, and the knowledge that came with maturity. he infused his influences of music, underground culture, fashion, and the rebelliousness of youth with the precision of bespoke tailoring and impeccable technique to create a world, an idea that re-ignited the imagination of of his peers. even though designers like marc jacobs or vivienne westwood divined inspiration from street culture before hand, slimane was able to capture and crystalize the general mood of the moment. at a time when fashion was so dependent on the ideas that sprung from street wear, hedi with his sensitivity and general appreciation never manged to rob or steal it's integrity purposely but made it accepted as a legitimate form of inspiration. in his hands it never became a didactic exercise of what to wear. something that didn't dictate what men should be wearing right now, but what he could draw inspiration from. designers like karl lagerfeld or influential buyers like the late hal rubberstein of bloomingdales championed slimane's designs by not only praising it, but also making it a vital part of their own wardrobe. with lagerfeld famously losing weight to be able to fit into hedi's designs. as the two thousands progressed, the scope of slimane's influence continued to widen and eventually the lean, toothpick thin silhouette that became his trademark began to manifest itself on the runways of his contemporaries. both in the arena of men's wear and women's wear. particularly to his french peers who were also experiencing with a new form of relevance by resurrecting staid french houses like balenciaga or givenchy. with designers nicolas ghesquiere and ricardo tisci injecting a new sense of youthful dynamic that has been absent with the mentioned esteemed houses. the scope of hedi's influence also gave attention to like minded designers like raf simons. both of which never hid the spell youth culture had on them. the vision of slimane has since been championed by new designers. his ideas can be seen on up and coming designers like his old assistant nicholas andreas taralis, and todd lynn in lodon. designers who manages to infuse a street level sensibility with a luxury mentality take on construction and production that elevated them to not just another high end sportswear label. ever since the sixties, when saint laurent took inspiration from street wear and youth culture, fashion has always been a slave to the public, not a servant to benefit its purpose. with slimane, it found the perfect negotiator. one that would present and offer its ideas. ideas that were so contemporary and relevant that it made sense to the modern way of life. in a time when everyone is always searching for the proverbial fountain of youth, slimane has found the pond. all that everyone has to do is drink from it. and years from now when scholars meditate on the influence of this decade, they will realize that everyone did. and boy did he ever quench their thirst.
dior homme: fall/winter 04/05, spring/summer 05, spring/summer 06, fall/winter 06/07, fall/winter 07/08