WHEN Hedi Slimane stepped down as artistic director at Dior Homme in 2007, Fashion Wire Daily summed up his tenure this way: “Slimane leaves Dior with the well-earned reputation as the single most influential men’s designer this century, the most copied of his peers and the only one to achieve the status of a rock star.”
It is difficult to examine Mr. Slimane’s photo work separately from his reign atop the world of men’s fashion. In particular, the Dior years would define a very specific moment in his and pop culture’s conjoined histories. The black skinny jean, the skinny black tie, the short-waisted leather jacket or snug blazer: his work at Dior, where he created Dior Homme, is credited with helping bring men’s wear from the loose-fitting, slacker style of the 1990s into the postmillennial look of form-fitting, clean lines.
When Mr. Slimane left Dior amid well-publicized infighting with executives, published reports suggested he wanted to start his own label and possibly move into women’s fashion. Since then, however, the world of design is one he has not seemed particularly eager to rejoin.
“With fashion design, there was also always a risk at the time to lose the sense of the perspective, the discernment,” he said, adding: “It might have been perceived as an abrupt switch for others, but it felt like precisely the right moment for me, in 2007. I had already mainly defined my style, and could let it on its own for a while, see where it ends up, or survives in the streets.”
And now there is the unveiling of an exhibition of his new work, “California Song,” which opens on Saturday at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art Pacific Design Center.