SO SAINT LAURENT
For his spring/summer 2020 collection, Anthony Vaccarello delved into the archives and emerged with something undeniably new, writes Sarah Maisey
Since taking the helm at Saint Laurent in April 2016, creative director Anthony Vaccarello has plundered the French luxury brand’s back catalogue with something bordering on glee. And what an archive to explore. Since it was founded in 1961 by the legendary Yves Saint Laurent, the fashion house has been synonymous with achingly cool styling and edgy insouciance.
In his spring/summer 2020 collection, which was presented in front of the Eiffel Tower in September as bright searchlights criss-crossed the Parisian night sky, Vaccarello initiates a conversation about opposites and reiterates the highly hedonistic aesthetic that he has conjured for the house. Throughout this collection, these two threads are clear, with sophisticated details in a colour palette of black on black, and looks that appear destined for a dancefloor – preferably that of New York’s famed Studio 54.
Vaccarello does veer at times from his preferred allblack colour scheme, introducing autumnal shades that feel rich and immensely beautiful on floaty and romantic silhouettes. Echoing the 1970s bohemia that Yves himself elevated from streetwear, the brand’s current creative director explores this free-spirited ideology via loose dresses and wrapped turbans, which, being Saint Laurent, are feminine and deeply sophisticated.
Riffing on the notion of opposites, he mixes delicate, gossamer fabrics with decadent gold embroidery. Stitched in tones of antiqued, aged metal, this is not about nouveau bling, but meant to evoke a rich sense of history, made relevant for today. Archive paisley designs swirl lazily across tiered prairie dresses, while baroque flowers cover negligee tops, which seem almost too fragile to hold them. Tones of ochre, burnt umber and dark teal are better suited to wintry clothes, yet here they are, scattered through a summer collection.
The embroidered looks are offered in dizzying variation. From off-the-shoulder and halter neck, to asymmetric and even slashed – every neckline has its moment in this collection. Cinched with vintage-style wide belts, or topped with boyish waistcoats, all looks were paired on the catwalk with slouchy boots in gold, teal or oxblood.
More delving through the archive unearthed a zebra print that the designer boldly reduced to barely-there golden devoré under beaded waistcoats and grosgrain edged tailcoats, nodding to the anti-war beginnings of this hippie revival.
This is Vaccarello, however, so the flirtation with colour is brief, and the rest of the collection retreats into inky darkness, drawing us into the a er-dark glamour of the Saint Laurent world. Metallic devoré is transformed into pie-crust blouses, while other molten surfaces appear as flowing, fluid harem pants (topped with more waistcoats of jet sequins or beading) or carved into bodycon mini dresses with contradictory flounced sleeves. Stirrup pants are given a matt finish and worn high on the calf – the extra long straps framing the ankle before disappearing into high heels.
Of course, no Saint Laurent collection would be complete without Yves’s greatest invention, Le Smoking, a tuxedo cut to a women’s form. Under Vaccarello’s guiding hand, it is either elegantly precision-cut from gleaming black sequins and paired with cigarette pants, or shaped looser, with squared-off shoulders and trousers chopped to above-the-knee shorts. There is a literal take on a 1980s Rive Gauche collarless jacket, now rethought as a sequined jumpsuit, but like a photographic negative, areas once matt now gleam in intense satin. Not once does Vaccarello sway from the path of ultra-feminine, as once again he proves he has a de ability to look back while always moving forward.
Saint Laurent’s latest collection features a mix of silhouettes – from 1970s bohemia to black sequinned jackets inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Le Smoking tuxedos