Anthony Vaccarello marches to the beat of his own drums. When parent group Kering appointed the Italian-Belgian designer in 2016 as the creative director to its legacy brand, Saint Laurent, expectations of a brand reboot were prominent. New creative heads, almost always, meant new directions after all. Instead of positing the expected 180-degree brand reboot, however, Vaccarello chose to honour the commercially viable ethos his predecessor, Hedi Slimane, left behind — remastering it as his own with a splice of the house’s archival elements. Reviews were mixed, but he expected them. In a recent interview, Vaccarello said, “When people like what you do, there will be another group of people who hate it. So the only thing you can do is to carry your beliefs and walk on.”
Fast forward to a fortnight ago under the glimmering Eiffel Tower, Vaccarello continued his unswerving walk, astoundingly on water at that. A glossy black pool lined by white towering dates stretched before the cultural landmark, yet another show with the French icon as a backdrop. The recurrence of the show venue was deliberate: Vaccarello wanted to cement his Parisian narrative “with the help of another Parisian classic.” This time for Spring/Summer ’19, his tale involved a troop of languid Saint Laurent women striding through the long stretch of inch-deep infinite pool. The visual impact was biblical, each spritzed droplets with every step of their lofty platform heels.
Vaccarello’s latest collection was, as show notes revealed, a study on the dynamism of modern individuality. A reference to Yves Saint Laurent’s divisive collection in 1971, where the seminal designer received unapologetic flak for infusing the era’s bohemian way of dressing — his muse, designer Paloma Picasso adored hand-me-downs and flea market accessories — into the exclusive echelons of couture. In the same devil-may-care vein, Vaccarello presented sex and sensuality in their most diverse, slick iterations. “What I am doing today is not different from what Mr. Saint Laurent did in the past, and I will continue to run with my convictions,” asserted the designer.
The classic Le Smoking tuxedos’ gender-bending silhouette was revisited. In several cases, where cigarette pants would have been expected, ultra-short shorts took their place. Hemlines were high, bare skin was profuse. Dresses were either mini or sheer and diaphanous, billowing as the wind tested their lightness. Black was the primary colour of choice, with occasional reflective gold and velvety red. All in all, the 95-strong lineup delved into the multidimensional lifestyle of a woman who’s confident in her sexuality — proffering beautiful clothes for her to wear to work, lounge, brunch, dinner, party, anywhere.
“It’s a silhouette created by a variety of pieces, inspired by different eras and timeless icons,” Vaccarello divulged. Of the notion he built the collection around, which could also be said of his design thumbprint, he said, “Eclecticism is freedom to build yourself, express your own personality and respect your complexity.”
Over at the show’s front row, gawking patrons were a mixed bag of well-known names, the likes of French actresses Charlotte Gainsbourg and Catherine Deneuve; supermodels Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss; and Korean actress Lee Sung Kyung.
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