Hedi Slimane openly acknowledged his reference to Yves Saint Laurent when he sent this dress down the runaway for the Saint Laurent label. It used a distinctive lips print, seen on these dresses from past Kerry Taylor auctions, both from the Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche label and dating to around 1971.Yves Saint Laurent’s 1971 Vichy Chic collection was described in his biography as “a tour de force of bad taste”. For the audience of the time, its forties silhouettes recalled too closely the fashions of the Occupation, made none-the-sweeter for its high camp aesthetic. Yves Saint Laurent, however, was non-repentant and declared, “There's a love affair between me and the street. 1971 is a great year because fashion is finally hitting the streets”. Of course, what was shocking once becomes softened over time – at his retrospective in Paris, I found this collection one of the most appealing and, indeed, looking at the dress above, wish it had retained the 1940s style neckline.
Hedi Slimane, of course, divides opinion too. This particular show attracted fierce criticism for its "virtual rehashing" of original YSL pieces, but was also one of the season’s most critically acclaimed. And his influence is undeniable: the fashion for the lip print has definitely hit the high street at least, seen here on fashions from ASOS and, that safest of British high street names, Marks & Spencer. Although, I imagine the print would have been much more fun to wear back in the 1970s, when accessorised with that frisson of controversy.