She Used to Be Cool

The world of fashion has become extremely entertaining since the arrival of Hedi Slimane at the helm of Saint Laurent. Every move he makes causes outrage and criticism, thus proving the foresightedness of those who put him there. He is focusing the media’s attention on what he is doing and on his fall 2013 collection, which is – I think – his main goal. “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about,” the wise Oscar Wilde said, and he was damn right. Now, after presenting a collection which has been gathering an endless string of negative reviews, Slimane doubles his bet with a photographic series, a music project featuring Kim Gordon, Courtney Love (of course), Marilyn Manson and Ariel Pink. Portrayed in black and white, these musicians pose in front of Slimane’s camera wearing Saint Laurent clothes and accessories, thus becoming official faces of the brand. There’s nothing wrong with that: Courtney Love was a forced choice (she’s the first source of inspiration of the collection, after all) and I don’t mind Manson and Pink. The problem is Kim Gordon and I’ll try to explain why.

1034347-444x630Kim Gordon, the coolest woman in the world of rock, the one who can sport a mini-dress like no other, the muse of Sofia Coppola and Marc Jacobs since the 90s, the proof that blondness doesn’t mean dumbness (and I could go on like this forever)… Well, she’s posing for Slimane pulling a sexy face. I’m disappointed by this, because Kim Gordon – at least in my mind – should never, ever need to play the sexy card. What for? She’s the epitome of coolness, which is 1000 times better than sexiness. I’m confused.

1034346-444x630Here the sexy tone is watered down a bit, but it’s still there. Slimane and Gordon have been friends for years, and now he’s coming up with these disappointing portraits? Don’t forget he’s the mind behind the amazing Rock Diary, a series of black and white pictures of famous and soon-to-be-famous musicians and celebrities. We know he’s capable of that and he gives us this?

1034345-444x630Putting the nth version of le smoking on Kim Gordon doesn’t change the fact that this is still a disappointing picture: it lacks drama, lustre, vitality and imagination. What part of the rock dream is being presented? What part of Gordon’s personality is emphasized? She’s simply channelling Betty Catroux, like any other blonde who wears a YSL tuxedo. The point is that Catroux exhuded (and still does) sensuality and refinement, while poor Gordon looks at the camera with a lost look in her eyes.

courtney-love-reading-19910823_03Is this what remains of the grunge generation? Is this the result of the Sonic Youth music and aesthetic revolution? Courtney Love and Kim Gordon could have changed the world (more than they have, to be honest), but here they are instead, wearing uber-expensive clothes, posing for a lazy photographer-designer who is much better than what he seems to be. Is this what they dreamt of in 1991, when they looked psyched and happy to be at the Reading Festival in UK? Now I can understand Kat Bjelland’s choice to step away from the spotlight better: maybe she didn’t want to end up like this, pretending to be sexy for selling clothes.

tumblr_meep9jjanT1qbknh9o1_500_largeBlonde double trouble, back in 1991! I know I’m just a pathetic nostalgic who can’t cope with the fact that the 1990s are gone forever, but damn, what’s the point of selling out your image like this?

Source, source and source.



  1. I suppose CLove is having sort of a wicked revenge for being a weirdo her whole life, and she’s selling, but not selling cheap. Kim Gordon has always been (IMHO) way too snobbish and intellectual to really play dirty with her image, so I’m really astonished by those portraits.
    Anyway, i remember way back in the late 90s Courtney herself posed for some cover magazine (I don’t recall which one, but I do remember the pic) in a way she lately described as “It was meant to be ironic, then it came out and I looked like fuckin’ Pamela Anderson”. Maybe this is not an actual change of values, but simply a project that should have been looking different (arty, chic, ironic or whatever).

    1. I couldn’t agree more. They have history – Courtney convinced Kim to produce “Pretty on the Inside” and Kim served as a patron for Courtney at the beginning of her career. I’ve always preferred Courtney to Kim but I’ve always thought Kim was more enigmatic and fascinating for her intellectual and artsy side (hanging out with Sofia Coppola and Marc Jacobs makes you instantly cool, right?).

      Now I guess Courtney is really having her revenge: most of her shots in this project really bring out her personality, which is what I’m looking for when a photographer embarks on a project like this. The only image I don’t like is the one where she’s wearing a tiara – too much Photoshop for my liking, she looks younger than me ;), but I love the homage to her kinderwhore phase.

      I don’t know if this is a good idea gone wrong but I can’t really see any irony in it. Slimane doesn’t work with irony but with drama and real life moments, and this makes me even more perplexed.

  2. Hi, I stumbled upon your blog and oh, I love your writing about the nineties, grunge etc. It captures a lot of my feelings about that time and you put into words how beautiful it can be to reminisce. To me, a lot of the music I listened to (and you know, lived in and through the music) is sometimes hard to listen to now, because so many feelings just come rushing along and I almost dive too deep in memories of being a teenager when you had all the time in the world to read cd booklets or figuring out how to get the perfect long sleeve short sleeve t-shirt-combo. To me, grunge represented so much of authenticity and trueness and depth (I don’t know how much was my projection) and it made me feel like I could define myself and know that it was ok if other people didn’t get me… As a grown up, it feels good not having to find yourself through some style or belonging to a certain group or anything. I’m happy not being there anymore, but a lot of memories from the teens (whether sad or happy) have a magic sparkle to it. Well, I just kind of wanted to say hello, and I’ll drop by again! /Molly P (Sweden)

    1. Hi Molly!
      Thanks so much for stepping by and for reading my posts.
      I agree with you on the impact that the music of that decade has had on our lives. Sometimes I feel I would feel less nostalgic if I stopped listen to it, but I just can’t, because it serves as comfort in good and bad times. I also agree with the fact that I’m happy not being there anymore; at the same time I can’t help but thinking about my 20s as the decade with that *magic* and unforgettable sparkle. Life goes on, we change and evolve, but it’s good having memories nonetheless.

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