PARIS -- When fashion editors put down their pens halfway through a catwalk show, it's always cause for worry.
This was the case at Hedi Slimane's disappointing debut at Yves Saint Laurent _ a rather confused ode to excess that used fringing, leather, lacing, tassels, feathers, sequins, skinny menswear tailoring, baggy pants, cinching cummerbunds, capes, tribal pendants and almost everything else under the sun.
That's not to mention an oversized black and white coat that could have been worn by Cruella de Ville.
Pierre Berge, Saint Laurent's former partner, speaking ahead of the show said: "(Slimane) knows the Saint Laurent DNA, the spirit."
There was definitely a nod to that. For example, black silk neckbows, a house signature that was used as a leitmotif. But the collection lacked the empowering sex appeal that made Saint Laurent one of the most famous names in fashion.
The bows, rather symbolically, instead of unifying the collection, fought with other busy materials for attention.
Unflattering floppy Stetson hats capped it off, sometimes blocking out the models' faces.
The pressure on the former Dior Homme designer Slimane _ who was appointed in March _ has probably been huge.
International media have pitted Slimane in a battle of designers against Christian Dior's new man, Raf Simons, who was appointed a month later.
Slimane took a gamble on the no-holds-barred approach to impress, but somehow fell short of the mark in his basic silhouette.
Many individual garments _ like one sumptuous look with side a spread of black feathers _ were highly creative. But they often didn't work as an ensemble.
The plumes' dynamic horizontal energy was drowned out by the bow, as it was in other looks, with fringing and over accessorizing.
Slimane pulled it off well when he wasn't trying too hard: A classy skinny menswear pant looked great with a sharp shouldered tuxedo _ and a spot on merging of YSL and Slimane's own personal style.
The best look _ again simple _ was a sexy waist length jacket in beige crepe with silver stripes and chic long black leather gloves.
Had he kept it cleaner, Slimane might not have given the upper hand so easily to his Dior rival.
Thomas Adamson can be followed at http:/ /Twitter.com/ThomasAdamsonAP