It’s nearly three years since Anthony Vaccarello stepped into Hedi Slimane’s polished, black Saint Laurent brogues. Three years of the once-Largerfeld-alum becoming comfortable in his own proverbial, and literal, spotlight. Marginally less cowboy than his predecessor, Vaccarello knows how to weave brand spirit with personal ingenuity. Or, perhaps it’s just a serendipitous case of couture cohesion whereby the right person got the right job.
The Saint Laurent show is fast becoming one of the spectacles of Paris fashion week. Last year models walked an other-worldy outdoor water-runway flanked by ominous white palm trees, under the watchful eye of the Eiffel Tower. This year, Vaccarello transformed the Trocadero into his own eighties mirror ball discothèque, complete with neon raging finale.
A show that impressed by sheer volume also didn’t disappoint in detail. This season, detail was cast in an eclectic light with the addition of haute-hippie weavings, opulent textures and costume-jewelled accoutrement. This chosen decadence tells the story of confident deviation from the sleek Slimanes of collections past. Feathery ankle boots swaggered models’ leggy silhouettes, many proportioned by bloomer micro-shorts (in velvets and jacquards) worn with rich pimpy jackets and tilted brims. There were smatterings of red brocade florals, plush animal prints and metallic silvers but, never fear, the leader of the hue-pack remained a smoking black. A tone cultivated so texturally by Vaccarello that you could forget the scene is almost entirely monochrome.
Power shoulders of a padded nature have been a takeaway talking-point, for both their YSL classicism and for their socially apt feminist timing. Post-show Vaccarello concurred “Everything starts with the shoulder…I want to give more power to women, and I think they need the shoulder.” The Italian-born designer is the perfect fit for Yves’ legacy, the originate of women’s power dressing. Party frocks in glossy patent blazer cuts, sequinned strapless numbers and structured micros stapled with oversized bow-shoulders all gave an after-hours wardrobe update for the Saint Laurent devotee. And the addition of polkadot pantyhose is sure to be a quick-fire widespread trend.
Then, as though the Martinis kicked in, the first part of Vaccarello’s imagined night out switched from chic bar to blurry nightclub. Spotlights quit and a raucous, strobing black-light hit the stage. Unexpected fluorescent rave pieces emerged, revealing a Saint Laurent of the late, late night. Glowing, neon-feathered frocks, lit-up pumps and white-fuelled nineties prints raged into an unexpected finale. It was fun. Not particularly Saint Laurent, but it swindled some welcome Vaccarello risk-factor…and a fresh desire to make dance-floors great again.