• Text Alex James Taylor
  • 27th September 2017

Hot love

When is a fashion show more than just a fashion show? How about when it takes place on an open-air runway built in Paris’ historic Jardins du Trocadéro, backdropped by a sparkling Eiffel Tower (that lit up right on cue) and injected with Hollywood drama via drifting dry ice and a pulsating soundtrack that is still, 24 hours later, rattling our eardrums? This was the situation at Saint Laurent’s high-octane SS18 show.

However, despite the concert-like atmosphere Anthony Vaccarello had created, here was a collection cast with poignancy following the recent death of Pierre Bergé. A quote from Bergé lay on each seat, roughly translated as “Maybe that’s crazy love. The love of two madmen.” And you just knew that he would’ve loved the epic-ness of this show: the man whose love for fashion, for women, for Yves Saint Laurent helped create and drive one of the most iconic, influential and trailblazing fashion houses.

And crazy love was the theme of the night, that kind of raw sex-appeal that arises from a potent cocktail of romance, glam, eroticism and plenty of fun: all emotions imbued in the house’s DNA by Yves and Pierre, since day one. Now in his third season, you got the sense that Vaccarello is really hitting his stride, here he riffed on the house’s signature codes and set them to the pulsing beat of today’s woman.

The clothes were a tribute to YSL. To the pioneering nature of Yves Saint Laurent who, driven by a burgeoning youthquake in the mid to late 1960s, ripped up the norm and presented the future. It all began with louche desert looks reminiscent of Yves’ time in Marrakech, with loose peasant blouses, feathers sprouting from shoes, tassels dangling alongside silver ethnic jewels – the type worn by Yves’ muse Loulou de la Falaise – and laced up shorts reminiscent of that iconic 1968 YSL safari jacket worn by Veruschka. Those shimmering accessories soon fed into entire embroidered looks, mirroring the Eiffel Tower’s own light show, before morphing into tropical-hued versions of Le Smoking. Appearing to be approximately 90 percent leg, Vaccarello’s models stomped along the runway in slouchy pirate boots (like those FW17 versions fitted with 3,000 rhinestones, only without the jewels, sadly), those previously mentioned feathered stilettos and knee-high hirsute boots that looked like crazy plumaged leg-warmers.

In-between the women came fifteen men’s looks (more than we had previously seen on a Vaccarello YSL catwalk). Matching the girls, boys walked in monochrome suiting, sheer and slightly ruffled shirting (very Keith Richards circa 1967), studded leathers (worn by a certain Gallagher jr.), embroidered velvet bombers, glistening brogues and slim leg trousers – proportions cut slightly wider than Hedi Slimane’s calf-tight measurements.

A series of extravagant, abstract dresses closed the show, appearing like shape-shifting couture origami. Some skirts had been hoisted to thigh-skimming lengths, some blown up into sequinned bubble dresses, while others were orbited by blossoming luxe feathers – a nod towards Jerry Hall’s show-stealing ostrich feather look at Yve’s final haute couture show in Spring 2002. All remixes of Yves’ own couture creations, all fit for a night at Studio 54.

Against the backdrop of Paris’ most iconic symbol, Vaccarello was paying homage to another.