• Text Alex James Taylor
  • 28th September 2016

New era

Attendees at Anthony Vaccarello’s debut Saint Laurent collection came face to face with a giant neon ‘YSL’ suspended against a rich purple Parisian sunset – a symbol of new beginnings from the highest order. An under-construction former French Ministry of Defence headquarters, which is now being restored as the Saint Laurent HQ, proved an apt setting for Anthony Vaccarello as he laid the foundations for a new chapter in the house’s storied history.

Holding the distinguished role as creative designer at Saint Laurent opens up a treasure trove of inspiration (Le Smoking, safari jackets, trouser suits, the pea jacket, Mondrian dresses, the list goes on) and has seen previous designers such as Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford, Stefano Pilati and, most recently, Hedi Slimane finding gold. Anthony Vaccarello set his mind back to a particular year, 1972, when Yves Saint Laurent unveiled his ‘Scandal’ collection inspired by friend and muse Paloma Picasso and her signature vintage forties style. Cue crepe draped dresses, boxy dyed fox fur shrugs, turbans, four-inch platforms and that now-iconic sequin embroidered fag in lips motif that outraged the fashion press whilst liberating women worldwide.

Vaccarello took this iconic moment and span it his way. Yves always cited “the fashion on the street” as his greatest influence, here the house’s new designer took his cue from the 80s: shoulders came wide, sleeves puffy, necklines plunging and skirts short. Sexy is a word often used to describe Vaccarello’s aesthetic, here it was a core ingredient as girls (and one boy, the only menswear look in the pack) walked in sheer blouses revealing bare chests below and there was even a glittery nipple pasty thrown into the mix – a nod to Yves’ 1990 collection that included a toga dress exposing the model’s left breast (something Slimane referenced in his FW15 collection and Tom Ford in SS03).

Gold lamé and leopard print punctuated the almost-all-black collection that came in leather, vinyl, velvet and lace whilst accessories riffed on 80s logo mania, including ‘YSL’ oversized earrings and one particular pair of sharp-toed heels that spelled out the house’s initials.

Under the mirrored ceiling, Vaccarello’s debut collection saw him reflecting the house’s history through his own vision: translation – not reiteration.