FADER Explains: Hedi Slimane’s Beef with The New York Times

October 04, 2012

On Tuesday, a day after his debut collection as the new designer for storied French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane posted a bizarre and cheaply Photoshopped diatribe against the New York Times’ fashion critic Cathy Horyn, who, just hours before, had published a less than stellar review about the runway show. Slimane's show was wildly anticipated by the fashion world, but as the story developed, it was reported that Slimane and YSL were so protective of the collection that they had been intimidating journalists and, in some cases, rescinding invites to the runway show from some of the most respected reporters in fashion, including Horyn, who was not invited. So what really happened? We give you all the facts.

There's a new designer at Yves Saint Laurent?
Yes. Hedi Slimane, the man who is credited with inventing skinny jeans as the menswear designer at Dior Homme from 2000-07, was given his first womenswear job at YSL after the previous designer, Stefano Pilati, was unceremoniously let go. Monday was his very first collection for the house, which he also renamed and rebranded as Saint Laurent Paris, a move that confused longtime admirers. In France, YSL is something of a national treasure since it was founded by Saint Laurent in the 1960s; France's first lady, Valerie Trierweiler, even sat front row at Monday's show.

Why wasn't the fashion critic from The New York Times invited to one of the biggest fashion events of the year?
Horyn claims it's because of spite: "I was not invited. Despite positive reviews of his early YSL and Dior collections, as well as a profile, Mr. Slimane objected bitterly to a review I wrote in 2004—not about him but Raf Simons. Essentially I wrote that without Mr. Simons’s template of slim tailoring and street casting, there would not have been a Hedi Slimane..." And Slimane seems to prove the validity of this claim later with his Twitter rant, in which he said about Horyn: "...as far as I'm concerned, she will never get a seat at Saint Laurent..."

Was Horyn's review of Slimane's show super mean?
Since she wasn't invited, Horyn could only view photos digitally once they published online, and she was disappointed: "Considering that Mr. Slimane was an avatar of youthful style, I expected more from this debut. I had the impression from the clothes of someone disconnected from fashion of the past several years."

Damn, Slimane tweeted what about Horyn?
That she's a "schoolyard bully," "a bit provincial," that "her sense of style is seriously challanged," and most damningly, that she has an agenda that is "thick and perfectly predicatable," alluding to her preference for newly-minted Christian Dior designer and supposed Slimane-rival Raf Simons.

Did any other critics get dissed?
Yes. Imran Amed, the editor-in-chief of The Business of Fashion, claims that the Saint Laurent PR team had been sending him intimidating e-mails all summer about the relaunch, and when he did not cooperate with their request to change an old article he had written about the brand, he was banned from the show and received an e-mail saying that they did not like his "tone of voice."

Was Slimane's show really that bad?
The reviews were mixed, but more bad than good. Lisa Armstrong at The Telegraph called the show "underwhelming," and Suzy Menkes, longtime journalist at The International Herald Tribune, labeled some of it "awkward." The Times of London’s Laura Craik was perhaps the most damning: "I don’t know if it was intentional, but you didn’t make journalists feel very welcome at your show...that all those glum-looking indie kids in black drainpipes got to see the clothes from the front row seemed a little insulting." Lady Gaga, on the other hand, tweeted her support: "Monsters, check out @hedislimanetwit garments for YSL this season ... a true punk visionary. Modern, forward, LA VERITE."

So why was Horyn singled out?
There's some history to Horyn-bashing. She's been previously banned from Giorgio Armani shows for writing mixed reviews, and just two weeks ago, designer Oscar De La Renta fired off insults at her after she wrote a review that he didn't like. Even Lady Gaga has blasted her and the Times; Horyn is, quite easily, the toughest critic in the business.

Has Horyn responded to Slimane's angry tweet?
Horyn released a statement to Women's Wear Daily: "It's just silly nonsense to me."

FADER Explains: Hedi Slimane’s Beef with The New York Times