“The first time I met Hedi was at a party hosted by Yves Saint Laurent. It was a public occasion, so we didn’t talk in depth but ever since then, he identifies and connects my name with MR magazine,” reminisces Taguchi while flipping to the editorial note pages of MR. In a short diary-like paragraph, an episode with Hedi Slimane, right before the announcement of his first collection since becoming the creative director of Dior Homme in July 2000, was described.

“On January 21st, I returned to the Paris branch for one night, after finishing coverage of Milan Fashion Week. Christian Dior Japan’s Emi Sugiyama came by for a meeting in regard to the next issue’s backstage coverage. Also, since the Dior office was close to our office, I went to greet the PR representative of Paris. The lobby of Dior’s office was packed with natural types of models which was indeed the kind that designer Hedi Slimane would choose. I wanted to bring that exact situation to Tokyo for a photoshoot. During the model casting, I ran into Hedi for the first time in two years. “You’re not gonna attend the show? Are you leaving now?” he said regretfully. Hedi’s eyes like a young warrior were full of dignity, making a clear premonition for the success of his first Dior Homme collection.” (quoted from the April 2001 MR).

Reflecting on the Paris scenery from 20 years ago and while reexamining the trend of models Hedi attracted, Taguchi says “the elements that fulfill ‘the standard of adolescent beauty’ are elements ingrained in Hedi himself and Dior Homme’s collection.” While confirming the special feature pages, collection photos and backstage photos of several MR issues for the Dior Homme models that embodied the new generation of men’s fashion, “It was the characteristic of the immature skeletal structure and physique. It’s the kind of beauty captured in the limited amount of time before puberty which is transparent with a slight shade of adolescence. The consistent intent for Hedi when choosing models included, ‘abstinence and pleasure’ which overlaps and may be projecting the ambivalent and unique balance of his own qualities.”

In the next conversation, the topic moved on to designers prior to Hedi, who transformed the “suit” - the fundamental clothing necessary for men in modern times.

“Before the presence of Hedi, there were two designers in the 80’s who changed the concept of men’s suits. One is Giorgio Armani. He created a gorgeously tailored suit that looked great on a built masculine body which was highly anticipated by actors, singers, and all male celebrities. The other is Paul Smith. It was a slim suit based on the encounter of the London Mod movement during his adolescent year in 60’s. It complemented even Paul’s tall form and made young men all over the world passionate about suits. With their personal aesthetic sense and techniques, they both managed to change the long tradition of a suit being society’s uniform, into designer suits that have “privileged joy”. To be clear, they are the innovators who changed the concept of suits. Neither is just nostalgic as a transient style that symbolized the times but both suits still continue to be the identity of the brand that keeps renewing their fan base. Then in 2001, Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme is created. The new concept of juvenile and skinny, elevates the suit into a radical designer territory to create a whole new eternity for this item.”

Hedi’s first assignment at Dior is said to be space and interior design for the headquarters studio. Just like at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme, there were no existing styles from the men’s archive to be handed down. But as the new creative director with an embracive view, he was put in charge to establish a brand from scratch.

“Fashion is similar to a movie as it can be explained as comprehensive art. A creative director and a movie director take on the same mission. By looking at the deep ties found in Hedi’s personal preferences like ingrained music and photos from his childhood, and what he learned about aesthetics overall in the years later, I was able to confirm Hedi’s ideal situation at Dior. Come to think of it, rather than being called a designer, having the title of creative director was the accurate naming for him. After Hedi graduated from the Grandes école, he studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre. He was also the art director at Jose Levy and was the assistant to fashion consultant Jean-Jacques Picart. He is devoted to versatile realms in the fashion scene. Hedi’s mentality and knowledge along with all the experience in his career lead to the fateful encounter with Dior that made him flourish.”

Toshiko Taguchi

Born in 1949. Chief editor of MR High Fashion and High Fashion, now a freelance editor.