You know a Hedi Slimane design the moment you see it. While many designers struggle to adapt their tastes to a burgeoning fashion market, Slimane has established his own brand of signatures, styles, and inspirations all without ever founding a fashion house that bears his name on the door. By revolutionizing, and, in some ways, defining some of Paris' most illustrious maisons, the Frenchman's aesthetic reaches far beyond the ateliers of Dior Homme and Yves Saint Laurent.

Born in Paris to an Italian mother and Tunisian father, Slimane's earliest (and perhaps longest-lasting, in retrospect) love was photography, not design. Starting around the age of 11, Slimane acquired his first camera and began to learn darkroom printing. His interest in photography would touch nearly all aspects of his future work, and ultimately became an intricate part of his online presence, archived neatly in his online photo diary. In his early years, Slimane had more of an interest in becoming a journalist, even visiting the offices of major French newspaper Le Monde.

By the age of 16, he was designing pieces for his own wardrobe and inevitably completed a tailoring apprenticeship, but it was his time assisting fashion consultant Jean-Jacque Picart that set him up for his future successes. After acting as go-between amongst designers during Louis Vuitton's centenary celebration of its iconic monogram, Slimane's taste and tact earned the respect of Pierre Bergé, better known as Yves Saint Laurent's business partner and spouse. Originally placed in a first-assistant position at YSL, Slimane quickly rose to the director of menswear by the age of 27. Slimane’s most influential moment during his first turn at YSL was the Black Tie collection of the F/W 2000-2001 season, which not only reintroduced skinny silhouettes back onto the runway, but helped establish Slimane’s aesthetic to the fashion-conscious public. It’s these designs that famously prompted the once-overweight Karl Lagerfield to lose roughly 42 kilograms just so he could fit into Slimane's tailoring. When YSL was purchased by the Gucci group however, drama and incompatibilities between Slimane and then-Gucci designer Tom Ford forced Slimane to step away from the house.