He worked an as assistant to Jean-Jacques Picard and in 1997 he was handpicked by Pierre Bergé to be Artistic Director of the Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche men's line.
Throughout the late 90's and the noughties, Hedi created a new zeitgeist for mens' fashion. Skinny was in. Hedi's insouciant, super-skinny suits with a rock & roll edge fast became a firm favourite with the glitterati including David Bowie, Jude Law (seen here in Dior ad directed by Guy Ritchie), Jamie Hince, David Beckham, Slash, Kings of Leon, Orlando Bloom and Brad Pitt, who wore a Slimane designed suit to his wedding to Jennifer Aniston.
Karl Lagerfeld is rarely out of Slimane designs - the inspiration for his dramatic weight loss was to fit into Hedi’s skinny designs. "I never suffered from being overweight. At the time, oversized Japanese fashion was all the rage. Call me a fashion victim, but when the pendulum swung back to skinny-fits I simply shrunk to follow the trend. I lost 200 pounds to wear suits by Hedi Slimane."
The androgynous cut of the suits made fans also of women such as Nicole Kidman, Linda Evangelista, Sharon Stone, Carine Roitfeld, Courtney Love, Sarah Jessica Parker, Helena Christensen, and Madonna. In 2000, he was appointed Creative Director for Dior Homme.
"Slimane is said to have transformed the male silhouette. He produced jackets that were cut short, with narrow, square shoulders, and teamed them with very skinny trousers – exquisitely made, super-tight tailoring that was designed with rock stars in mind, but was greeted with so many standing ovations on the catwalk he is proud to have documented the British music scene at an exciting time. ..And his passion for Pete Doherty remains undiminished. "I think he had a huge influence on youth, globally. His way of doing things was really romantic." He didn't mind that Doherty was off his head all the time His design work is best for the moment because is the most right for the moment" The Guardian
Hedi has said his designs come from his head, when he listens to a song and will design a whole collection around it. “I think about the characters, the allure, the walk, the proportion, the hair – it just makes sense from one song." Slimane's rock & roll style was shaped by musicians such as Patti Smith, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie & Ziggy Stardust and later Depeche Mode, Joy Division, Pulp, Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight, The Drums, Phoenix, Kings Of Leon and Pete Doherty. "There is no fashion without music. Marie Antoinette knew better when she fetched Gluck to Versailles, to try her new wardrobe on the dance floor. Nothing will ever change. Fashion = music + youth + sex. This is what my menswear and my style were always about."
In an interview earlier this year in Womens’ Wear Daily, Hedi slammed designers for cheapening their clothes by rolling them out onto red carpets. “The unfortunate outcome (of blogging and social networking) might be the obsession and collusion between the celebrity culture and high fashion. It is just a big global mess of random endorsement. Nothing looks worse than a dress or a suit on a red carpet. It is an ongoing tragedy of cheap fashion on cheap celebrities, followed by ubercheap comments.” Hedi has now turned to photography and has an amazing eye, as the photos below attest. His photography is monochromatic, smouldering, sexy, androgynous and edgy - like his designs. "I like well-made, authentic clothes, well-crafted tailoring" he said. "I also like the dream and fantasy of luxury, the exception and rarity of it. I have no interest at all in fast retail. It is ambiguous." Here are a few of my of favourite images by Hedi Slimane.