Saint Laurent – Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Collection

Moments after Anthony Vaccarello’s sophomore show for Saint Laurent, and surrounded by a group of towering and particularly gorgeous well-wishers—Charlotte Gainsbourg, Eva Herzigova, Amber Valletta, and Anja Rubik among them—he knelt forward to speak to Pierre Bergé, the legendary, and legendarily formidable, cofounder of the house of Saint Laurent, who had come to pay his respects. Their exchange lasted for only a few minutes, and Vaccarello went in close to listen to whatever Bergé was whispering to him. Given the expressions on each of their faces, well, they both looked pretty darn happy. This was the sole quiet and intimate moment in a show where everything was turned up to LOUD, which you could say is the second legacy that Vaccarello has had to deal with: not only the size of the legend of the originator of the house, but also its most recent incumbent, Hedi Slimane, a dab hand at the Runway Show as Rock Mega Stadium experience.

Vaccarello again chose to show in the new and still under construction Saint Laurent HQ on Rue de Bellechasse, this time in an enormous raw amphitheater with tiered stadium seating, the club soundtrack set to pulsing, bone-shaking (and yeah, foot-tapping, and seat-dancing) noise levels. But make no mistake. This was no Slimane redux moment. To anyone familiar with the shows that the young Italo-Belgian designer used to do under his own name, this one wasn’t wildly different, just staged at the kind of maximum volume level that’s required for a brand of this magnitude. And as with those seems-to-be-a-new-one-every-minute campaigns he has been turning out with the likes of Collier Schorr and Inez and Vinoodh, which have made a point of celebrating very 21st-century notions of inclusive beauty and all sorts of expressions of sexuality, Vaccarello has been loudly and firmly putting his stamp on YSL while striving to stay true to himself.

That, most importantly, includes the clothes. Yves Saint Laurent is of course one of those houses where everyone has an opinion and no two are alike. It’d be nigh impossible to ever reach a consensus on what it should, could, needs to be; everyone is a yay-sayer, or a naysayer, just depends on who you ask. Vaccarello, for his part, realized that his way forward was to be referential, respectful even, just don’t ever get trapped into being reverential. As with last season he was, he said, inspired by one particular dress, an haute couture number with huge sleeves which dates from the early ’80s. “I always relate YSL to parties, to evening,” Vaccarello said backstage. “I couldn’t do a show without those golden years, but I wanted to take that further.” So while his show ended with the usual final lap of honor for the models, they were dressed not in what they’d just worn, but in different iterations of tiny, sculpted, curvaceous after-dark looks, glistening in black velvet, gleaming in black leather, glittering from thousands of rhinestones—get a load of the diamond cable-knit sweater, which was knockout! What preceded all this focused on clothes for daylight hours, though, truth be told, those were pretty turned up to the max, too.

Vaccarello’s idea here was to mix up über-luxe versions of clothes girls want to wear every day, and then give them a kind of brute romanticism, a tender toughness. The denim jacket now rendered in sheared mink or shearling. Tough cognac leather draped into dresses, a bloom adorning their necklines. An extravagantly pleated cocktail skirt, perhaps worn with an ivory mohair sweater, or a supersized over-layer, neatly pinpointing the new something tiny under something big proportions that have started percolating this season. Or put any and all of this, faded blue jeans included, with a pair of the just-on-the-knee fantastic ruched boots that were all over this show, an accessory that got some pretty fierce competition from the ultra-long aviator gloves which were also inspired by that dress’s gargantuan sleeves.

Still, even if he had a whole line up of evening looks to unveil during his finale, Vaccarello couldn’t resist slipping in some strictly for night looks earlier, too. One, that closed the pre-finale proceedings, an abbreviated black dress embroidered with a purple flower and green leaves, was an homage, albeit much, much shorter, to a dress that Monsieur Saint Laurent had designed way back when. (Turns out that was one of the things that Monsieur Bergé had wanted to talk to Vaccarello about after the show.) In fact, Vaccarello said, his new version used the very last of the Lesage embroidery that had been originally commissioned by Yves himself. It was a decidedly confident way to finish a just as confident show: The past is here, but the past is also gone; the present is all that really matters.

by Mark Holgate

Models (alphabetical order): Abril Shaw, Adut Akech (Close), Agnes Akerlund, Aira Ferreira, Aleyna FitzGerald, Ana Arto, Angel Rutledge, Aviv Schneider, Binx Walton, Birgit Kos, Camille Hurel, Chane Husselmann, Chiharu Okunugi, Dasha Khlystun, Elibeidy Dani, Elizabeth Ayodele, Emm Arruda, Faretta, Femke Huijzer, Fernanda Oliveira, Hiandra Martinez (Open), Jess PW, Johanna Defant, Julia Nobis, Justine Asset, Laras Sekar, Laurijn Bijnen, Lex Herl, Lexi Boling, Linda Helena, Luca Gajdus, Mag Cysewska, Manuela Sanchez, Margot Baget, Marie Damian, Marine Deleeuw, Melissa Stasiuk, Mica Arganaraz, Michelle Gutknecht, Mileshka Cortes, Moira Berntz, Nandy Nicodeme, Nina Marker, Nuria Rothschild, Sara Dijkink, Sean Levy, Selena Forrest, Sophie Rask, Valery Kaufman , Vittoria Ceretti.

Saint Laurent – Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Collection