Is Kering bullish on Saint Laurent? The brand’s future headquarters telegraphs yes: 3,000 square meters, or 32,300 square feet, on Rue de Bellechasse into which the company will move next year. Right now, it’s a three-sided work in progress centered by a courtyard where Anthony Vaccarello showed his sophomore collection. (Yes, it was cold, but the outdoor heating kicked in eventually, and the house provided blankets.) The raw grit of the construction site contrasted with the pristine industrial seating — metal risers supporting thick, dark green slabs that were indulgently deep but not just for show. Before the show, François-Henri Pinault noted the marble is destined for permanent use, as showroom table tops. Waste not, and if you can do so while adhering to the chicest of design standards, all the better.
As for the clothes, they’re not about chic. Looking chic is the furthest thing from the mind of this Saint Laurent girl and, it seems, delivering it, the furthest from Vacarello’s. The grail here is delivery of an aggressive cool of the sort that dares you not to get it. In fact, it double-dares you. First with clothes pretty much limited to a market of Instagramming pop stars and well-heeled party-girl aspirants to that status, peak-shouldered, high-shine vinyl (or leather that mocked such), not fare for the faint of heart. Yet brazen does not mean without flourish. You think ruffles are girly? Think again, after taking a look at those punctuating Vaccarello’s micro minis (dresses and skirts) cut with a wide V pointing to one side. And he loves a tricked-out sleeve (often just one), whether a raucous Renaissance riff on a tiny leather dress or an add-on — a big cozy shearling sleeve that lost its jacket.
Such clothes were in-your-face fashion, pulsing with sexy attitude, the runway bait. They validated part two of the Saint Laurent dare — impeccably made, basic (as in really basic) clothes — jackets, sweaters, pants, jeans, a good old-fashioned tank of the Jockey/Hanes variety. Some were a little dressed up (fur jacket over sweater and trousers) and some, dressed down (leather jacket, shirt, jeans). The pre-finale men’s wear fell completely into this category — ultra-cool, ultra-wearable, just clothes. Which is not to imply Vaccarello cut corners — he did a lot of work here. In fact, for his finale, Vaccarello did an entire second collection for men and women, in decadent renderings of black with crystals.
In his show notes, the designer lauded “Monsieur Saint Laurent’s subversive approach to clothes,” and said he intended for “this collection to be like a re-reading, a radical fantasy of this heritage.” Certainly there were Saint Laurent references throughout. But the basic formula — over-the-top, audacious fashion as the bait to elevate the aura of everyday clothes steeped in classicism and delivered with ample au courant style — was brought to Kering’s Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane. It’s a construct Vaccarello seems intent on continuing. And why not? It worked.