Hedi Slimane Rebrands Yves Saint Laurent With California-Cool Painter Billy Al Bengston

Saint Laurent Men's RTW Spring 2016.
Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.
Billy Al Bengston, Kaimuki Dracula (1979). Photo: via artnet.com

Billy Al Bengston, Kaimuki Dracula (1979).
Photo: via artnet.com

Saint Laurent Men's RTW Spring 2016. Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.

Saint Laurent Men’s RTW Spring 2016.
Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.

Since taking the helm of the legendary Yves Saint Laurent house in 2012, Hedi Slimane has essentially gut-renovated the entire building, so to speak.

Retro-branding of the house’s logo back to “Saint Laurent” caused quite a stir in the fashion community—T-shirts were made emblazoned with the slogan “Ain’t Laurent without Yves.”

But Slimane has proved himself fit for the task, boosting sales and more importantly injecting excitement into the sleepy brand.

Having had photography exhibitions at MOCA Los Angeles, Galerie Gmurzynska, Spruth Magers, and Mary Boone, the designer is no stranger to the art world. That’s why it seems the French-born designer often nods to particular artists in his collections.

Billy Al Bengston, Untitled (1974). Photo: via artnet.com

Billy Al Bengston, Untitled (1974).
Photo: via artnet.com

Billy Al Bengston, Adhara Draculus (1977). Photo: via artnet.com

Billy Al Bengston, Adhara Draculus (1977).
Photo: via artnet.com

Saint Laurent Men's RTW Spring 2016. Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.

Saint Laurent Men’s RTW Spring 2016.
Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.

For his women’s fall 2014 presentation, he sent unique John Baldessari dress designs down the runway, and for his most recent 2016 menswear show, Californian painter Billy Al Bengston was at the collection’s core.

The American artist is known for employing industrial materials and techniques used for the ornamentation of motorcycle tanks and surfboards. He also actively associates his art with motorcycle subculture.

It comes as no surprise the artist served as Slimane’s reference point, after all the designer is known for his grunge-heavy (just look at all those Kurt Cobain-inspired looks) and youthful collections. The 46-year-old designer even relocated the French fashion house’s offices from Paris to Los Angeles.

It’s not the first time a designer has nodded to a fine artist while putting together their collection. Acne Studios cited Mario Schifano and Albert Gleizes for their recent resort collection and design duo Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler have named Helen Frankenthaler and Robert Morris as inspirations for their fall 2015 collection.

Billy Al Bengston is represented by Franklin Parrasch Gallery and Samuel Freeman Gallery.

Billy Al Bengston, Untitled (1979). Photo: via artnet.com

Billy Al Bengston, Untitled (1979).
Photo: via artnet.com

Saint Laurent Men's RTW Spring 2016. Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.

Saint Laurent Men’s RTW Spring 2016.
Photo: via WWD/Giovanni Giannoni.


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