GANG OF NEW YORK

GANG OF NEW YORK

VOGUE Hommes International (English) - - CONTENTS TRENDS - IN­TER­VIEW BY Olivier Lalanne PHO­TO­GRAPHS Grey Sor­renti ST YLING Gro Cur­tis

Af­ter two years at the head of the leg­endary House, An­thony Vac­carello presents Saint Lau­rent man for the first time. A meet­ing over cof­fee.

Pa­tience is a virtue, and it took no small amount be­fore An­thony Vac­carello’s Saint Lau­rent men’s sil­hou­ette fi­nally stepped into the light. Two years into his ten­ure at the head of the ne plus ul­tra of Parisian fash­ion and lux­ury, the Italo–Bel­gian chose New York and the late– evening banks of the Hud­son River to set loose a gang of sassy boys in black leather sa­fari jack­ets, glit­ter­ing em­broi­dered bomber jack­ets, snake­skin blaz­ers, see– through shirts open to the wind and skin–tight jeans drip­ping with caviar se­quins. It was a care­fully dosed cock­tail that riffed many of Yves Saint Lau­rent’s own ref­er­ences, from Mar­rakesh to gen­der–bend­ing, from black to brazen­ness, to bad–boy vibe. A show away from home turf but very much a trib­ute. Forty years ear­lier, Yves Saint Lau­rent had cho­sen the same spot for the Ori­en­tal–themed launch of Opium — a whiff of scan­dal be­neath tum­bling or­chids and lilies. Tru­man Capote, Cher, Calvin Klein, Diana Vree­land and Halston par­tied like it was 1978. An­thony Vac­carello wasn’t yet born. Which could be why the de­signer, a grad­u­ate of Brus­sels’ pres­ti­gious La Cam­bre art school, re­spects, and has an in­stinct for, the leg­end but isn’t crushed by its weight. His daz­zling dresses and leather mi­croshorts for mile– long legs, his sheer blouses, in­flated shoul­ders cov­ered in studs and navel–graz­ing neck­lines have pushed Saint Lau­rent’s turnover be­yond the bil­lion–euro mark ( up 23 % in 2017 ). Af­fir­ma­tion of its menswear should send it into the strato­sphere. An­thony Vac­carello is un­fazed. Sit­ting on the ter­race at Café de Flore in Saint–Ger­main–des–Prés, sip­ping a cup of black cof­fee, he has the in­no­cent fresh­ness of a Christophe Honoré lead­ing man — Love Songs, maybe. Wiry and dis­creet in dark jeans and shirt, messy hair, he comes across as at­ten­tive and re­served, feet on the ground and head in the stars. And, a rare qual­ity, gen­tle in the noble sense of the word. The epit­ome of chic.

VOGUE HOMMES

You’ve been Saint Lau­rent cre­ative di­rec­tor for al­most three years now. Why wait so long be­fore your first stand­alone men’s show?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

I’d never de­signed a men’s col­lec­tion be­fore Saint Lau­rent. It was just a ques­tion of feel­ing con­fi­dent enough to take the plunge.

VOGUE HOMMES Why present the col­lec­tion in New York? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

We had the Eif­fel Tower as a back­drop for the women’s show, and I could see it would be hard to come up with any­thing as spec­tac­u­lar in Paris. I mean, it doesn’t re­ally get any bet­ter! New York seemed the ob­vi­ous choice. I love New York. The city grew so fast and it al­ways feels as though any­thing can hap­pen there. For me, New York is about the free­dom to be who you want to be, the Fac­tory, a melt­ing pot of cul­tures. It has a charisma no other city has. Like ev­ery­one else, I first saw New York in films and I still re­mem­ber the weird sen­sa­tion of ar­riv­ing there for the first time, at maybe seventeen or eigh­teen, and ev­ery­thing be­ing so fa­mil­iar yet com­pletely un­known. Also, this isn’t the bright­est pe­riod in Amer­i­can his­tory, so hav­ing the show in New York was a way of hon­our­ing the city. —›

“I like the idea of be­ing your­self, ap­pear­ing the way you want to, with­out sex­ual mo­tives and with­out be­ing judged.”

VOGUE HOMMES

Yves Saint Lau­rent imag­ined a very dis­tinc­tive sil­hou­ette, which in­cluded bor­row­ing pieces from a man’s wardrobe as a mir­ror of women’s lib­er­a­tion. In your show, it was the op­po­site, with a lot of the outer signs of fem­i­nin­ity very much in ev­i­dence on the models: sheer fab­rics, leop­ard print, glitzy em­broi­dery, bare skin and a fi­nale that was all glit­ter and se­quins. So boys just wanna have fun, too?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

I’m glad it was ob­vi­ous. I want to break men out of the mould, un­shackle them from the vir­ile, ath­letic clichés. Let them ex­press their sen­si­bil­ity. It’s not about pre­sent­ing a guy who is fem­i­nine or bla­tantly sexy — a word I dis­like — but a man in touch with his feel­ings, who’s sure of him­self. I like the idea of be­ing your­self, of ap­pear­ing the way you want to ap­pear with­out any sex­ual mo­tives and with­out be­ing judged. It’s a right I de­fend all the more strongly now that ev­ery­thing has be­come so clin­i­cal and uni­form.

VOGUE HOMMES

Some de­sign­ers be­lieve men and women will one day share the same wardrobe. What are your thoughts on that?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

It’s flavour of the month. I can’t see it hap­pen­ing and nor would I want to. There’s a ten­dency right now to want to erase dif­fer­ences and make ev­ery­one look the same. How de­press­ing! I’m a great be­liever in and sup­porter of more gen­der flu­id­ity but I don’t think men will be wear­ing dresses one day. It’s good to mark out ter­ri­to­ries. That’s why I was happy to do the men’s show. Sharp, un­com­pro­mis­ing. It’s a shoul­der, a struc­ture that im­plies a cer­tain pos­ture, a de­meanour, an at­ti­tude, pos­si­bly at the ex­pense of com­fort, in which case tough … It’s the an­tithe­sis of the cool, slouchy, sports­wear sil­hou­ette that’s ev­ery­where now, to the point of overkill. And it’s black, of course.

VOGUE HOMMES De­scribe the Saint Lau­rent sil­hou­ette. AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO VOGUE HOMMES

Is Saint Lau­rent in the back of your mind when work­ing on a col­lec­tion?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

Al­ways, at first. I pic­ture him in a djellaba, in a belted sa­hari­enne jacket and cor­duroys, even a leather jacket. Then the im­age fades. The col­lec­tion takes shape, it goes onto the models and I start to see it dif­fer­ently …

VOGUE HOMMES

What frame of mind are you in when you de­sign a men’s col­lec­tion? Do you have a con­cept, a pure vi­sion of what it will be, or is it more a trans­po­si­tion of what you would wear?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

A bit of both. There’s a cer­tain amount of my­self when I was young and what I wore then. When I was twenty, I was fas­ci­nated by Xavier Del­cour to the point of want­ing to do this job. He was this dark an­gel, a boy in black with smoky eyes, a see–through shirt, se­quins, tees and jack­ets with the sleeves ripped off. The 80s–in­spired elec­tro wave of 2000. The per­son­al­i­ties I grew up with also have a big in­flu­ence: Serge Gains­bourg, Jarvis Cocker or Suede lead vo­cal­ist Brett An­der­son. —›

VOGUE HOMMES Which men in­spire you the most? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

Serge Gains­bourg, al­ways, in a Saint Lau­rent dou­ble– breasted pin­stripe jacket over a faded denim shirt. People in mu­sic, film, the Nou­velle Vague. Robert Map­plethorpe, for his provoca­tive, icon­o­clas­tic and un­con­ven­tional spirit, which has now be­come ac­cepted. Mostly men from an ear­lier era. It’s hard to come up with some­one con­tem­po­rary. There is some­thing about Ti­mothée Cha­la­met that in­trigues me. The beauty of rather ob­jec­tion­able, prob­a­bly slightly ar­ro­gant youth. He looks so sure of him­self, all that at­ti­tude. I like that “lit­tle shit” side!

VOGUE HOMMES The ul­ti­mate Saint Lau­rent piece? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

A pair of jeans. He of­ten said he wished he’d in­vented them. Jeans are to Saint Lau­rent to­day what the sa­hari­enne jacket was in the 1970s.

VOGUE HOMMES

This is­sue of Vogue Hommes is de­voted to chic. What does chic mean to you?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

If you asked some­one younger, I don’t think they’d know what it meant. Cool has got the bet­ter of chic. Chic is time­less, be­yond fash­ion, with a lit­tle some­thing of the past. It’s an at­ti­tude. It’s the art of match­ing things that don’t nec­es­sar­ily go to­gether. In an ul­tra­p­er­sonal way. It’s mak­ing the in­co­her­ent co­her­ent. It’s be­ing your own per­son.

VOGUE HOMMES

What’s the an­tithe­sis of chic? The cloth­ing or ac­ces­sory you’d elim­i­nate from a man’s wardrobe? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO Mas­sive sneak­ers. With­out a mo­ment’s hes­i­ta­tion.

“You don’t say no to Saint Lau­rent Es­pe­cially as when they handed me the keys, they just said ‘over to you’.”

VOGUE HOMMES And the sta­ples? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

A pin­stripe wool jacket, ex­actly the kind Gains­bourg used to wear, a denim shirt, black jeans and a leather jacket. Sev­en­ties cut, tobacco brown.

VOGUE HOMMES What do you as­so­ciate with Yves Saint Lau­rent? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

Spon­ta­neously, I’d say par­ties. And, bizarrely, al­co­hol, co­caine and de­pres­sion, those demons we of­ten as­so­ciate with Saint Lau­rent are re­ally all to do with par­ty­ing. Which proves there is more than one Saint Lau­rent. Then there’s the gang. Betty, Loulou, Pierre Bergé and Andy Warhol, Mick Jag­ger … a tight cir­cle you ei­ther loved or hated, but which al­ways fas­ci­nated. It’s some­thing I try to recre­ate with the people around me.

VOGUE HOMMES

Are you a snob? A lit­tle. So was he, ac­tu­ally. And hugely pop­u­lar at the same time. Again, Saint Lau­rent is a closed cir­cle. I like the idea that Saint Lau­rent fash­ion, the Saint Lau­rent mind­set aren’t within ev­ery­one’s reach. When I look at all the pho­tos from back then, it makes me wish I could have been part of the gang.

VOGUE HOMMES Did you ever meet him? AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

Never. But I did meet those close to him. Pierre Bergé, of course, as well as Betty Ca­troux and Do­minique De­roche, who worked along­side him for al­most forty years. It’s vi­tal to stay con­nected with the Saint Lau­rent DNA and root it in the present mo­ment. It’s the most em­blem­atic, most mod­ern Parisian house. Saint Lau­rent in­vented ev­ery­thing.

VOGUE HOMMES

The two words most of­ten used to de­scribe you are dis­creet and de­ter­mined. Would you agree?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

Let’s just say I don’t talk much and I know what I want. I was cer­tain a big Parisian house would come along one day. When Ker­ing got in touch, I thought they were go­ing to of­fer me Ba­len­ci­aga. And it was Saint Lau­rent. You don’t say no to Saint Lau­rent. Es­pe­cially as they didn’t tell me what to do when they handed me the keys. It was more like, “over to you”. It should have sent me into a spin but even now I haven’t fully re­alised it. I go to the stu­dio on Rue de l’Univer­sité ev­ery day and it still hasn’t sunk in. It pro­tects me, in a way; it takes a lot of the pres­sure off.

VOGUE HOMMES

Saint Lau­rent is a grail. It car­ries so many ex­pec­ta­tions and fan­tasies. You need a bul­let­proof jacket when you’re the de­signer at the head of such a leg­end. What kind of an experience is it?

AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO

When I ar­rived at Saint Lau­rent, I knew that all my pre­de­ces­sors had come un­der fire and that some had re­ally taken a slat­ing. There was no get­ting round it, but fore­warned is fore­armed. When it does hap­pen, it’s not that bad. Per­sonal at­tacks don’t get to me. On the other hand, nor does flat­tery. Ev­ery­one thinks they know bet­ter than ev­ery­one else what Saint Lau­rent is and what it should be. People as­so­ciate the house more with the tuxedo, the lav­ish­ness of haute cou­ture or the 1980s bour­geoise, and far less with the free­dom, the eman­ci­pa­tion and the stylis­tic revo­lu­tion that it stood for in the 1970s. Again, there is more than one Saint Lau­rent. Try­ing to do some­thing dif­fer­ent with that isn’t pro­fan­ity.

Op­po­site page: Wool coatThis page, top right: Wool shirt and silk shirtCash­mere jacket, denim jeans and brass pen­dantDenim sa­hari­enne jacket and silk muslin shirtRight: Leather sa­hari­enne jacket, denim jeans and brass chain SAINT LAU­RENT BY AN­THONY VAC­CARELLO SPRING– SUM­MER 2019

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