The Saint Laurent show on Tuesday night at the start of Paris Fashion Week was held in a fantastic wreck of a site that will become the new headquarters of YSL in 2018, but for now is a demolished courtyard dominated by a crane lit in red, white, and blue and dangling the house logo rather ominously. Inside, a mirrored ceiling reflected generations of YSL fans, and in one glimpse I saw Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jane Birkin, and Lou Doillon all together, so despite all this ongoing construction, there is some semblance of continuity happening at Saint Laurent in the post-Hedi Slimane age, after all.
Generations for a new generation of Saint Laurent: Charlotte, Jane and Lou. #pfw @ysl
This new era belongs to Anthony Vaccarello, a young designer who has made a splash in Paris over the last few years with super sexy cuts, slinky dresses, and breast-revealing looks that were obvious favorites among the supermodel set, namely because they like to show off their bodies. He gave up his signature label to start on Saint Laurent this year after Slimane quit in a haze of controversy.
There was a lot of concern going into this transition, which was necessitated after Slimane could not reach an agreement with the company about his future, that Vaccarello faces a challenging work environment. The company all but said it intended to continue selling Slimane’s core wardrobe staples, while ushering in a new designer who wouldn’t be such a headache for the human resources department. And yet with one show, Vaccarello managed to assert his presence in an unexpected and largely professional manner, professional being perhaps the wrong word when talking about clothes that again were super, super sexy.
In fact, the new Saint Laurent looked quite different from that of Slimane, starting with the addition of loose-cut boyfriend jeans to the existing staple of skintight skinny jeans. Where Slimane did Robert Palmer minis last season, Vaccarello went with wild animal prints on velvet that suggested a mood that was less severe, although perhaps less focused as well, which seems appropriate for the generally scattered mindset of editors these days. Just give us something to be photographed in, they seem to be saying, such as a one-shouldered dress that leaves one breast exposed, save for a glittering pastie (or pasty? what is the singular of pasties, after all?). Remember when Lindsay Lohan tried that at Ungaro? Who knew she was so ahead of her time?
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Vaccarello’s version of Saint Laurent will undoubtedly be remembered for its brazenness, but it also deserves to be noted for its variety. He offered leather blouses with wide, drooping shoulders that looked great, and gold and metallic foil minis that harkened to YSL’s golden age, along with shoes and earrings that used the house’s famous logo to great effect.