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Saint Laurent SS17 Womenswear PFW Dazed
Saint Laurent SS17Photography Evan Schreiber

Vaccarello plays with bad taste in 80s ode to Saint Laurent

With YSL logo heels, velvet leopard print and tassel earrings, Anthony Vaccarello puts forth his vision for the legendary house

As guests arrived for the Saint Laurent show yesterday, the drama suggested by the giant neon YSL logo suspended above Rue De Bellechasse was palpable. Once the site of a 17th-century abbey, and until recently, the home of the Ministry of the French Armed Forces, the building will eventually become Saint Laurent’s new HQ – and so proved to be the perfect in-flux venue to show Anthony Vaccarello’s debut collection. We were there to see a house in progress, as the shift from Hedi Slimane’s vision to Vaccarello’s was set in motion.

A 1982 vintage Saint Laurent dress with exaggerated sleeves and leopard print was the starting point for Vaccarello, and while an iteration of that sleeve showed up abstracted as a singular harnessed accessory and on mono-shouldered short cocktail dresses, the focus here wasn’t on specific YSL iconic looks. Instead, it was on a feeling, a memory – or in Vaccarello’s words, a “bwink” of Saint Laurent playing in his head. “It was just about having fun and playing with the idea of Saint Laurent rather than the vestiaire of Saint Laurent,” said Vaccarello backstage.

These fragments played out in puffed-up leather tops, a smattering of richness seen in the sheer black lace and distressed brocade and deconstructed takes on Le Smoking, coupled with one solitary male model in a sheer shirt. Memories of that sharp and heightened silhouette merged with jeans, denim jackets and flat brogues, lest the collection fell too deep into an 80s rabbit hole.

“It was just about having fun and playing with the idea of Saint Laurent rather than the vestiaire of Saint Laurent” – Anthony Vaccarello

Back in 1971, Saint Laurent’s “Scandale collection had the press declaring his green fur chubbies, 1940s-inspired tea dresses with embroidered smoking lips to be “hideous”. Vaccarello’s own work has always flirted with a similar notion of bad taste, inviting either extreme love or hate for his limbs-all-out uncompromising vision of a woman. Here you could already gauge similar reactions to his mono-shouldered leathers, the diamanté sprinkled sheer tights and the sparkle nipple number.  

We may have been sitting in a husk of an incomplete building, but this Saint Laurent-in-progress by Vaccarello has already created some indelible images. Anja Rubik in a cut-up bejewelled corset with emphasis on the V of the bodyline across the hips. Or was that ‘V’ a ‘Y’, as Vaccarello brought the original YSL logo back to the catwalk fore in a pair of spindly black patent heels with the initials worked into the stiletto, which will undoubtedly gain collector status. Then there were those finale deep jewel toned leopard print velvet dresses slipping off one shoulder and enveloping the other with tassel earrings reminiscent of Saint Laurent’s Chinoiserie oeuvre.  

With a concrete catwalk as his debut stage, Vaccarello’s collection could be seen as a similarly solid beginning. His appointment to the house may not have ushered in the same monumental expectations that accompanied Slimane’s, but with slightly less fanfare, there was a clarity to what he’s putting forth. As direct and to-the-point as his models’ lengthened limbs striding forth in those YSL stiletto heels.