It could have been a soggy, dismal end to the first day of Paris Fashion Week, as Anthony Vaccarello unveiled his second ready-to-wear collection for Saint Laurent outside, in the middle of a torrential downpour. Despite the unfortunate weather (and we mean really unfortunate – it began to hail as the models battled on), the designer used lashings of leather to distract from the lashing rain – and it worked.
Vaccarello, who established his uber-sexy, extra-tailored aesthetic first at his eponymous brand and later at Versus Versace, reaffirmed his love for body-con silhouettes, all-black everything, and amped-up ‘80s glamour with a collection that somehow included basic denim, shearling jackets, slouchy boots, cocktail dresses with exaggerated sweetheart necklines, evening gowns in butterscotch leather, super-short PVC skirts, and glittering power suits (with power shoulders) all in one.
The predominantly black offering was studded with flashes of red via rose-decorated chokers and scarlet stilettos, tan leather, and hyper-shine navy blue. It was, of course, a stark departure from Hedi Slimane’s grunge glamour vision, with lots of exposed skin, sexy silhouettes, bold ruffles, and plunging necklines. As Vacarello wrote in the show notes, he looked towards “Monsieur Saint Laurent’s subversive approach to clothes,” and the pieces were meant "to be like a re-reading, a radical fantasy of this heritage.”
The nod to the house's roots wasn't just evident through the pieces, though. Yves Saint Laurent, who founded the fashion house in 1961, was one of the first designers to use black models on the runway; Vaccarello’s cast was considerably more diverse than Slimane’s was, with Mica Argañaraz, Mileshka Cortes, Hiandra Martinez, Binx Walton, Elibeidy Martinez, and Elizabeth Ayodele taking part. And, for the first time, menswear was shown alongside womens.
Vaccarello's strength lies in his ability to make even the most traditionally girly silhouettes feel edgy and tough; to modernize pieces the house produced decades ago in a way that's fresh, rather than copy-cat (tell us this blue blazer, black pants combination doesn't feel like it could have walked down this runway). As the designer said when he made his debut last Spring, the YSL girl is “certainly not bourgeois or classic. She has a huge respect for Saint Laurent, but not in the first degree. So I thought of her taking a vintage dress and cutting into it.” And if you find a formula that works, is there really a need to switch it up season-after-season?