On Tuesday evening, there was no escaping the huge neon letters — Y, S, L — suspended from a blue, white, and red crane, as the audience arrived for Anthony Vaccarello's highly anticipated debut collection for Saint Laurent. Once inside the venue, a former monastery then military headquarters, which will soon become the company's new HQ, showgoers found themselves asking: How would the 34-year-old creative director pick up where Hedi Slimane's decidedly rock and roll, grunge glamour aesthetic trailed off? Would he bring "Yves" back to the French fashion house? And would he initiate a turning point (or, hopefully, a return to form), ushering the brand into the next era? From the first look — a black leather, puff-ball-sleeved minidress with a plunging neck line and cinched waist (that you might remember from the Rive Gauche days that inspired Vaccarello, or even its last resurgence at Saint Laurent's fall 2016 Haute Couture show) it was clear that the designer's titillating, provocative signature was here to stay. Finding inspiration in the brand's '80s archives, Vaccarello explained that he believed that period of the brand was what the coolest girls are seeking out in vintage stores now. He was particularly inspired by a voluminous sleeved dress from 1982, but the designer told Vogue.com before the show: "I don’t want to repeat the things [Yves] has done. It’s not about the garments, my idea of YSL lies in the attitude and how we handle things. There are fabrics like leather, vinyl, velvet, lace, but then they’re put on a girl of today."
Studying a label's archives and making old trends new again isn't exactly an inventive approach when assuming the helm of a storied fashion house, per se, but the end result almost always proves to be worth the leg work. And, in true Laurent-Slimane-Vaccarello magic, there was a whole lot of leather. From biker jackets and dresses to cigarette pants and patent coats, the timeless fabric prevailed, with metallics, sheer lace, and mesh supporting. Silhouettes were often off-the-shoulder and asymmetric, as Vaccarello showcased his trademark bodycon, ultra-sexy, high-octane vision (seen previously in collections for both his eponymous label and Versus Versace). Following the commercial success of Slimane's stint at Saint Laurent, Vaccarello has big boots to fill, but it's clear he's up for the challenge. Not only was it a pleasure to see those three letters again — from the neon sign to actually forming the heel on a pair of stilettos — but it was a great pleasure to see a more diverse cast than the models Slimane frequently worked with. Binx Walton, Edie Campbell, Freja Beha, Malaika Firth, Anja Rubik, and Mica Arganaraz were just some of the big names who walked in the show. And as Vaccarello told Vogue: "I don’t like to say that it’s white, black. It is just the world today... It’s just natural to have those women, who are amazing, no matter where they’re from." We're just happy his heart — and his head — are in the right place.