It was one of the coolest light shows this side of Burning Man.
On Tuesday, Anthony Vaccarello turned the YSL show space into a runway rave with a tunnel of black light, hundreds of pulsing bulbs and infinity mirrors that made models into walking glow sticks and fluorescent footwork out of their high heels.
It was a fitting finale to a collection that was straight-up Eighties, with big shoulders, small skirts and legs for days, inspired by Catherine Deneuve, Bianca Jagger and Betty Catroux, the liberated muses of the “me” (if not necessarily the #MeToo) generation.
“Everything starts with the shoulder,” the designer said backstage of his silhouette. “I don’t want to talk about oversized, because everyone is doing oversized. It’s a straight silhouette…I want to give more power to women, and I think they need the shoulder.” The result felt more directional and less crowded with commercial merch than some past seasons, just pure fashion with a capital “F” that stood up to the special effects.
The first look was a mannish gray overcoat with shoulders as wide as Tom Brady’s over a plunge-front tuxedo jumpsuit cut close to the body, the yin and yang of a woman’s power to conquer and seduce, and a reminder of Saint Laurent’s historical role getting women into pants.
Tailoring was a key message, from a new version of Bianca’s famous white tuxedo with a looser, straight-line blazer over tapered pants, to a black tuxedo column gown with deep enough pockets to please today’s feminists. A black-lace bustier worn with high-waist black trousers and Chelsea boots also had a down-to-earth allure. Meanwhile, pencil skirts, resplendent with black feathers at the base, or glittering tiered maxiskirts, brought to mind Seventies Opium-era decadence. They came paired with new, padded-shoulder peasant blouses or sheer mesh tops that freed the nipple for those who care.
Vaccarello usually offers a seasonal proposition in the way of a new, leggy style, some of which work better than others. Last year’s Flintstones hem mini was followed this season by bloomer shorts that actually looked pretty great. Rendered in silk, velvet, even red-and-black striped fur, they made a sexy-sweet counterpoint to the house’s rich hippie and bedazzled lady jackets, worn with stiletto boots. In the jacket department, the news was oversize (sorry Anthony) bombers, some with Yves Saint Laurent scrawled across the back, but that was where the sport/street inspiration ended because this was a collection about dressing to kill, without being gratuitously sexy, a trap the designer has fallen into in the past.
Vaccarello’s signature embellished minidresses have never looked better, one tied up in an oversize red velvet bow, another with a black satin shoulder flourish that seemed to defy gravity, worn with dotted black stockings for that extra French touch. Meanwhile, a couture-style black sequined coat dress with gilded buttons was a pure ode to Yves. It was all a bit of a throwback, sure, but it made you dream — and want to go out partying.