French menswear designer
Born: Paris, France, 1969. Education: No formal training in fashion; studied art history at the école du Louvre. Career: Hired as assistant at José Lévy, 1990; became assistant at Yves Saint Laurent, 1997, quickly becoming designer of Rive Gauche Homme and then YSL menswear; took over as designer of Dior Homme, 2000. Address: Dior Homme, 30 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France.
Plewka, Karl, "A Hedi New Experience," in Interview, March 1999.
Horyn, Cathy, "An Electric Moment for a Men's Designer," in the New York Times, 1 February 2000.
Raper, Sarah, and Robert Murphy, "Is Hedi Slimane Leaving Yves Saint Laurent?" in DNR, 18 February 2000.
Socha, Miles, "Slimane Talks About Dior, YSL," in WWD, 5 July 2000.
Horyn, Cathy, "A Short, Creative Trip," in the New York Times, 18 July 2000.
Bowles, Hamish, "Hedi Times," in Vogue, May 2001.
Sischy, Ingrid, "The French Connection," in Vanity Fair, June 2001.
Menkes, Suzy, "Dior's Fashion Warriors Amid the Luxury," in the International Herald Tribune, 3 July 2001.
Horyn, Cathy, "Erotic Undercurrents," in the New York Times, 11 July 2001.
Hedi Slimane, designer at Dior Homme since late 2000, has achieved nearly universal positive reviews for his collections, both at Dior and before that at Yves St. Laurent. This young man has made his way in just a few years from a virtual unknown to the highest profile menswear designer in France.
The fashion press and his fellow designers alike find Slimane's upscale designs stand out from the competition. Colleagues such as Karl Lagerfeld and Slimane's former boss, Yves St. Laurent (with whose brand he now competes), attend his shows; in fact, St. Laurent caused a stir when he made a rare appearance at one of Slimane's first shows for Dior, whose parent company, LVMH, is a bitter rival of YSL's parent, the Gucci Group.
Slimane's silhouettes are based on classic menswear but with a modern twist. He is known for preferring black (sometimes with hints of bright color); for narrow lines, low-cut and sheer shirts and thin-waisted suits; and for a certain femininity that appeals to men and women alike. After women such as actress Cate Blanchett and entertainer Madonna requested versions of his men's suits, Slimane began selling certain items for women as well, not modified at all from the men's designs except being available in smaller sizes.
Slimane has a reputation for high-quality tailoring, attention to detail, and minimalist designs, his pieces have frequently been termed "architectural" and "slightly subversive." He also is interested in the idea of matching, whether a tuxedo and a swimsuit or a pair of sunglasses and a ring. Although his designs appeal to youthful men— and his very young runway models emphasize this slant—Slimane has commented that his clothes are much more about attitude the wearer's age.
Slimane's work for Dior has been a continuation of his progression at YSL, where he first designed the Rive Gauche Homme ready-to-wear brand, later taking over the reins at YSL menswear. He became known for pieces that have been called slim and sexy, elegant and erotic, subtle and simple. He has a modern take on fashion yet a respect for and inspiration from the work of leading menswear designers throughout history. After leaving YSL, Slimane had many options, from designing his own label for YSL's owner, Gucci Group, to designing Prada's Jil Sander women's collection. He opted for LVMH's Dior because he liked the idea of creating a men's business practically from the ground floor; Dior Homme had focused only on suits for some time, with distribution limited to Europe and Asia.
Slimane's move to Dior in 2000 at age 32—caused in part by his dissatisfaction in reporting to another designer after Tom Ford was hired to oversee all of Gucci's brands—was acclaimed, but some observers wondered about the ramifications to the Dior brand, especially given the fact that John Galliano, Slimane's polar opposite, was designing the women's collection. Critics wondered how Dior could put forth a cohesive brand image when its women's and men's lines were so divergent, even taking into account that the two were never merchandised or advertised together.
Yet Slimane felt comfortable, at this point in his young career, with the idea of creating new designs within the established Dior framework. He told Women's Wear Daily (5 July 2000) that he liked facing the challenge of creating something new within the vocabulary of a firm with a long history. So far, given the way the fashion world has continued to embrace the shy designer and his work, the fit seems perfect.