• text Jake Hall
  • 25th September 2019


If there’s one thing Antony Vaccarello understands, it’s how to put on a show. His reign at Saint Laurent has already produced a handful of memorable moments, and SS20 was no exception: after hours of teasing on her Instagram story, Naomi Campbell walked the runway as the illuminated lights of the Eiffel Tower glistened in the background and a myriad of lights shone from the floor into the Parisian sky, like plucky spotlights competing with the stars themselves.

This high-octane glamour filtered from the setting into the collection: thigh-grazing pinstripe shorts were teamed with waistcoats (with nothing underneath, naturally) and lashings of black leather; glossy leopard-print dresses came with daring cut-outs; maxi skirts came in pleated, metallic gold lamé. Saint Laurent’s iconic codes – most notably Le Smoking suit, of which Naomi wore a black, sequinned iteration – were as omnipresent as ever, but the specific inspiration was Yves’ 1976 Ballets Russes offering. Often dubbed the ‘peasant collection’, this iconic moment saw the designer tap into the Russian aesthetic depicted in the Russian Ballets he so admired, twisting these fictional works into exquisite couture looks. In Vaccarello’s vision, this reference became clear as the black leather faded in favour of translucent paisley prints and ruched, suede boots.  Like Yves Saint Laurent’s club-going Rive Gauche customer had slapped a time-warp cork in a bottle of Brut and surfed it all the way to 2019, we were given velvet blazers, crocodile knee-highs and Betty Catroux headscarves – all via a seductive Vaccarello spin.

An emphasis on tailoring returned towards the show’s close, marked by a series of tuxedo jackets teamed with transparent shirts and super-short shorts, before Naomi stepped out to rapturous applause. Not even the rain could dampen the fashion crowd’s spirits on the first night of Paris, proving once again that Saint Laurent is still one of the season’s most coveted tickets.