The future of Saint Laurent was shrouded in uncertainty earlier this year when Hedi Slimane stepped down as creative director and the brand announced that relatively unknown Italian-Belgian designer Anthony Vaccarello would fill his big, punked-out shoes.
So when the time came for Vaccarello’s big debut, with the French fashion house’s SS17 collection, audiences were on the edge of their seats in anticipation. Thankfully Vaccarello didn’t disappoint, presenting an almost all black, wearable, sensual collection that nodded to 80s rock while referencing some of YSL’s most iconic looks.
Models walked down the catwalk in updated, street-savvy Le Smoking suits punctuated with see-through tops and lopped-off sleeves. Leather jackets were in full force, reimagined with feminine, heart-shaped necklines and paired with skin-tight jeans and skirts. There was lots of asymmetry, with square-shouldered and leg-of-mutton-sleeved mini-dresses in variations of leopard print, lace and leather. It’s what women wish they could have worn for 80s prom night if their parents hadn’t been around to ring the bell of shame. However, modern women might still find wearing a dress with an exposed breast and pastie (à la Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl) a bit racy. But Vaccarello is a true champion and doesn’t skimp on sex appeal and thigh-high slits, reflecting his time working at Versace’s diffusion line, Versus.
His debut collection is what we’ve come to expect from the Saint Laurent of a bygone era, which might not be what critics and editors were expecting. Fashionistas were craving a brand new vision that remained true to the DNA of the house but made it clear why there was a creative change in the first place. Slimane gave the house new life in a volatile market; Vaccarello seems more motivated by paying homage to its founder. ‘Everyone has their own interpretation, and I know I can’t please everyone,’ Vaccarello told Business of Fashion after the show. ‘But neither could Yves.’
We were pleasantly pleased, just not pleasantly surprised. Now that Vaccarello has proved he understands the brand and gotten the classics out of the way, we hope to see his own unique vision.