Bright lights, black leather
And crystals, everywhere. Get ready for a season of sensuality
The story behind the new Saint Laurent season
The anticipation surrounding Anthony Vaccarello’s second collection for Saint Laurent was intense. If expectations for his first collection were high, they now came weighted with the hope that Vaccarello would surpass that debut with a show that was new and zeitgeisty but also in line with the Saint Laurent house codes. Something fresh, but also familiar. Something that challenged but also paid tribute to the maison.
Something impossible, in other words – except Vaccarello had already pulled off an impossible stunt once. Could he do it again?
The buzz came to a head at Maison Saint Laurent on Paris’s Rue de Bellechasse, which would once again serve as the show venue for the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection. And once again, it was still under construction, but a combination of extremely loud music and a dizzying amount of hype transformed the raw area into a magnetic, energetic show space. Once the first model walked out, in a glossy, strong-shouldered black leather jacket, rumpled, pointy-toed, knee-high boots and a demure flash of eyelash lace skimming the thighs, everyone in attendance knew: the game was back on.
Sly subversion was always one of Yves Saint Laurent’s hallmarks, and one that has stayed with every creative director of the house since. Across the decades this has transmuted into a nonchalant rock ‘n’ roll sexiness, one that now easily equates to black leather and plunging necklines, ankle-breaking stiletto heels and slashes of black eyeliner. “I love Monsieur Saint Laurent’s subversive approach to clothes, his dark romanticism with a hint of perversity,” Vaccarello explained in his show notes. “I wanted this collection to be like a re-reading, a radical fantasy of this heritage.” To that end, Vaccarello turned the house’s culture of subversion on its head – dialling down the in-your-face sexiness,
tempering it with real-world textures, throwing jackets over bare shoulders and replacing corsetry with gently gathered waistlines.
There was black leather, of course, but with a fresh new counterpoint in the form of a warm, cognac brown leather. This shade was deployed across dresses, skirts and the aforementioned jackets – always gathered or ruched in soft ripples, whether in a dramatic shoulder ruff, in too-long sleeves that were pushed up at the wrist, or in one theatrical case, a full-length glove that encased the arm and exploded in a shearling-lined plume at the shoulder. And the shots of colour, though rare, were striking: soft white mohair sweaters, deep teal fans of crepe and satin, metallic waves of electric blue and finally a quartet of intensely sparkling, crystal-covered pieces: cable-knit sweaters that from a distance looked like snakeskin dipped in silver, and slinky dresses that shone fiercely under the floodlights.
But if you’re worried about a potential lack of black, don’t be. This was still a collection grounded in black, but in textures – varnished leather, deep velvet, tissue-like gauze, sheeny satin, patent shine and sheer lace. And at the end of the day, it was Anthony Vaccarello doing a Saint Laurent show, so all the sweaters in the world couldn’t mute the sensuality: nipples peeked through sheer shirts, hemlines grazed the tops of thighs, zips ran the entire length of minier-than-mini dresses. Vaccarello showed Saint Laurent fans and critics that there’s more than one way to be sexy, but it usually involves leather.
Sly subversion was always one of Yves Saint Laurent’s hallmarks, and one that has stayed with every creative director of the house since.
The A/W ’17 show took place in the still-unfinished Saint Laurent headquarters
Warm brown shades of leather were just as prominent as black Colours took the form of jewel toned greens and blues