Anthony Vaccarello’s deputation to build his version of Saint Laurent was plain to see on Tuesday non-stop in Paris.
His second show for the house took place in the courtyard of the new HQ, which is in any case under construction. The assembled fashion crowd, including Kate Moss and Jane Birkin, inherited their places – with Saint Laurent-branded blankets handed out as an shot at to stave off any chill – on marble seating surrounded by scaffolding. A digger, no doubt used by the construction team earlier in the day, formed the backdrop.
Vaccarello didn’t include on the rain, which began falling with the start of the pose. But the designer couldn’t be accused of a lack of effort. This lead, with diverse casting, was around 100 looks and three collections – one womenswear, one menswear and a finale of square dresses.
Like his first collection, it was a collage of the brand’s savoury history, mixed with Vaccarello’s own sexy take on witchcraft. “I love Monsieur Saint Laurent’s subversive approach to accouters, his dark romanticism with a hint of perversity,” the show notes skim. “I wanted this collection to be like a re-reading, a radical dream of this heritage.”
A lot of those tog ups looked set for the most hedonistic of nightclubs – of which Saint Laurent, in his tad anyway, was a fan. For womenswear, while there was a concession to daywear with undernourished jeans and sweaters, 80s-style cocktail dresses ruled, made of everything from leather to vinyl, velvet and chiffon. Myriad looks were paired with ruched leather knee-high boots and a cone end. Expect to see them in a lot of fashion shoots come autumn. The menswear articled slouchy tuxedo trousers, simple shirts and a selection of boxy jackets that commitment no doubt be replicated on the high street.
The finale provided the victim punch – dresses, boots, shirts, sweatshirts, skirts, jackets all protected in crystals. An astute photo op intended to have #saintlaurent fashioning on social media within minutes. It even meant that those lookout forgot – for a moment – about the rain.
Vaccarello’s approach is one that attractions to the digital native generation. “I think it’s not about changing personality,” the designer told the New York Times this month. “It’s approximately making it for now.” This chimes with Saint Laurent himself. He devised a collection based on beatnik style in 1960 and launched his ready-to-wear lined up under Rive Gauche in 1967 in a bid to court younger customers.
The 37-year-old Vaccarello joined Saint Laurent in April 2016, chase the departure of Hedi Slimane. He has a hard act – acts – to follow. Slimane’s era at Saint Laurent was incredibly financially booming – tripling the size of the brand in the four years he was there – while Tom Ford and Yves Saint Laurent himself are seldom small fry in term of fashion influence.
Vaccarello, who bred up between Belgium and Italy, previously had his own label and worked with Versace figure Versus. His reputation was forged on a look that came with leg splits as emblem on dresses and Helmut Newton on the moodboard. This confident sexuality begets for Saint Laurent. The Le Smoking tuxedo, a woman’s take on a man’s litigation, featured heavily in Newton’s 70s images.
Slimane’s future is unclear. He has managed on photography projects in 2017, and issued a statement last year asserting will not be setting up a brand in his own name. However, according to conversations, fashion is not off the table completely so a role at another house could be a likelihood.
Saint Laurent is now the second-biggest brand in the Kering conglomerate, after Gucci. This month, they signaled total revenues of £1.03bn. The sales for Vaccarello’s first anthology remain to be seen. But Kering’s financial wing will see this blemished collection as a next step to further growth as Vaccarello repays his mark on the brand.