For his final regular runway presentation with Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane again looked to California music. The clothes themselves channeled Courtney Love’s grungy princess attire mixed with Kate Moss in classic Glastonbury mode. The tune, The Mirror by Damaged Bug (aka Thee Oh Sees John Dwyer) is a paranoid, synthy, psych-influenced beauty. At times paper thin, at times squelching and broken, it’s a track that’s both a perfectly obvious pick and a choice totally singular to this era of Saint Laurent.
I’m going to use the next few days to mourn the end of the Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent era, including his runway soundtracks. He didn’t always stick to hip young Cali bands, choosing the angular dance punk of New Yorkers Liars for his Spring/Summer 2014 collection. The propulsive predecessors to New Rave reworked Mr Your on Fire Mr specifically for the runway. The confident, 80s inspired clothes got an extra kick in the ass from the strutting, guitar-driven standout.
Check out the original and the reworked runway version:
Riccardo Tisci has certainly always skewed dark at Givenchy. He’s normally looked to religion and history to infuse his shows with a seriousness and an iconoclastic bent. In his 2011 Spring Menswear show, he dialed back some of the ornateness and went for cleaner details, but he still needed a way to provide some dark romanticism that has become signature. Cue Gerard McMahon’s Cry Little Sister. The theme to The Lost Boys is dramatic, smoky goth-pop. Wholly earnest in its drama, the song’s eerie kids choir and tribal synth-drums announce its era immediately. On its own, it’s arguably a bit cheesy today (although still pretty fantastic). Yet set against the ghostly gimp masks, crisply tailored white skirts and the flesh colored leggings of the runway show, the song somehow earns back some of its gravity. The presentation and the soundtrack feel slightly incongruous, but that actually makes the histrionics of the track feel brilliantly, intentionally alienating. It’s like watching The Silence of the Lambs’ Buffalo Bill dance in the mirror. Only such an antiseptic, artificially-produced song could create that much of an inhuman feeling.
Check out the original, along with a Givenchy show snippet below:
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a mantra that could easily be applied to both Swans and Ann Demeulemeester. Both have been churning out gothic/industrial-tinged work for decades without ever losing their sense of adventure or seeing a dip in quality. So it makes perfect sense that Demeulemeester would choose the band’s song Screen Shot for last year’s Fall/Winter collection of her women’s line. It’s a loping, sickly beast, dangerous and definitive. That makes it a perfect pairing with the collection, not as funereal as years past, but rather powerful and precise. The clothing is high gloss and sultry, with an extra eye to strong tailoring. The song is eight driving minutes of growing menace, beginning tightly controlled, but snowballing into a shrill cacophony. Like many other Swans songs, it it deceptively simple, finding commanding new angles in repetition, much like Demeulemeester’s own work.
Haider Ackermann’s clothes have always been for rebels. For Fall/Winter 2015-16, he kept a touch of rockabilly tailoring, but dialed down the color. The slight changes made for a dramatically different mood. So how to capture that with music? What about a slow, menacing remix of State Trooper by Bruce Springsteen. Maintaining the unsettled narrative and wild yelps of Springsteen’s journey into the mind of Charles Starkweather, while adding a practically lento disco beat, the mood of the song transforms. Before it was about paranoia and fear. Now it’s about power. The models walk slowly and deliberately. They are sultry and in control. The refrain of “Mr. State Trooper, please don’t stop me,” becomes more of a command than a plea. It’s a bold take on a song that already reaches unnerving perfection. It demands attention. The clothes demand attention. The models demand attention, yet they are not in competition. Each element comes together to form a single mood: a severe but alluring flawlessness.
Check out Ackermann’s runway remix, as well as the peerless original below:
The king of runway soundtracks is undeniably Hedi Slimane. His transformation of Saint Laurent was built on the tight knit relationship he’s always had with rock and roll. When he moved the label’s design operations to Los Angeles, he wasted no time incorporating the local rock scene into the brand’s DNA. Arguably the biggest musical hit he’s scored so far is the use of Burger Records alums Cherry Glazerr for his Fall/Winter 2014 show. The hypnotic, grungy psych song features teenage prodigy Clementine Creevy (who, for the record, can really shred live) strumming up a heavyweight storm while chirping seductively over the electrifying track. There are moments when it sounds like she’s about to slip away, slinky and high as the sun. Despite being absolutely massive sounding, the track is also laid back and nonchalant, a killer combo with Slimane’s dark take on 60s Go-Go glamour: confident and cool, in control but not in a hurry. Saint Laurent rarely features a musical collaboration dud, but this outing was a match made in heaven. Check out the full runway and the single version below:
Fashion month kicks off this week in New York. In recent years, the soundtrack to the runway has become increasingly important. Not only is it a way for a designer to set the mood for the show, but it can also show off their current cool cachet or root themselves firmly in a specific moment from the past. Rick Owens put just about every other designer and music pairing to shame when he used Ima Read by Zebra Katz as the musical backdrop for his Fall/Winter 2012-13 womenswear show. Sparse and threatening, the track itself sounds like an Underworld song in stereo panned all the way left. Then Katz starts in with his simmering threats, the kind of quiet promise of violence that you do not question. Next up, Njena Reddd Foxxx throws down one of the most non-chalantly badass verses in history. The whole thing is cool as ice, a brilliant contrast to the literal fire that is alight behind the runway. While Owens’ own work is largely similar from season to season, Ima Read adds a menacing layer of urgency and attitude to the collection, transforming it from the work that has been presented before it. It’s a hypnotic marriage of singular artists. Check out both the original runway show and the delightfully disturbing music video below: