Anthony Vaccarello typically distills his fashion message at Saint Laurent down to at least 100 proof, and for fall, it was all about big-shouldered jackets and neat pencil skirts.
Add a plunging tank top, some gold hoop earrings, square-ish aviator sunglasses, a pair of gleaming patent sling-backs with gold-spike heels and you’re done.
This was the main look that tread the carpeted runway Vaccarello had installed inside a giant black YSL-logo box at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. He had outfitted the room with big gold chandeliers to resemble the ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel, where late fashion icon Yves Saint Laurent paraded haute couture from 1975 until 2001.
When a black velvet cocktail dress appeared with a sexy criss-cross neckline, disrupting the power suit parade, you were flung back to those days where fabric and flesh melded seamlessly — no gaping, no rippling, just pure chic.
Vaccarello is an extremely meticulous designer, also dedicated to perfection in cloth and cut, so what this show lacked in variety he made up for with finesse — the way those ramrod shoulders held firm, while the rest of the jacket swayed. Backstage, he cited a will to combine tailoring and flou in each of those linebacker blazers, some pinstriped, some plain.
Big shoulders are nothing new at Saint Laurent, and the designer has been nudging the eye towards this silhouette the past few seasons. Backstage, YSL chief executive officer Francesca Bellettini was wearing one of Vaccarello’s sharp-shouldered smokings, and she looked every inch the boss.
She also looked like she had just stepped out of a Helmut Newton photograph, which turned out to be the case for every look stalking Saint Laurent’s fall runway.
This show was about other grand gestures. Tie-neck blouses were wound into giant pussy bows, or the ties trailed far behind the model like cigarette smoke. Mohair stoles — some black, some tartan — were draped dramatically over those hulking shoulders, caught in a big gold ring on one side.
Asked backstage about the tartan, Vaccarello said the inspiration came from a photo of Catherine Deneuve wearing a checkered jacket. She was among a phalanx of famous women who attended the show. Others included Blackpink’s Rosé, Zoe Kravitz, Olivia Wilde and Dua Lipa.
Tackling skirt suits was a new challenge for the designer, more recently focused on statement overcoats and tube dresses. What was striking about this show was its single-mindedness, with only one outerwear style — a rugged, bulbous leather blouson with a perfume of the 1980s — and no leather goods but for a slender evening clutch.
Alek Wek, with her endless legs, was the perfect model to debut Vaccarello’s sleek new cashmere pants, the most casual thing on the runway.
The show climaxed with sheer blouses, sheer pencil skirts and some draped velvet, leather and chiffon evening confections that echoed Vaccarello’s very soigné men’s collection, where everything also started from the shoulder.
It was a heady blast of mythic Parisian style, and guests made their way out of the pitch-black venue drunk on elegance.
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