The late British poet and critic Arthur Symons believed in the power of Venice to turn realists into ultimate romantics.
Anthony Vaccarello isn’t the strictest realist by nature, and he definitely indulged in major romanticism with the Saint Laurent men’s spring collection he unveiled with a runway show on Venice’s La Certosa island on Wednesday night.
In the show notes, Vaccarello described the collection as “a fantasy on a Victorian dark romance.” (He canceled his traditional post-show catch up with the press.) References to Saint Laurent’s glorious past stood out in the lineup, in which retro components were counterbalanced by the almost futuristic vibe of the installation created for the occasion by artist Doug Aitken. It served as the set for the show, which featured guests including Hailey Bieber, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Anja Rubik, Mica Argañaraz and Rick Owens, who lives a stone’s throw from the location.
As he previously did in other locations across the globe, from Gstaad to the Californian desert, Aitken developed a stunning structure that had every available surface clad in mirrors. Inside the installation, the artist put plants whose images were reflected to create a suggestive kaleidoscope of light and reflection and a fluid relationship with the environment. The installation will be open to the public until the end of July, highlighting Saint Laurent’s participation in the local Biennale Architecture exhibit.
“The idea of the structure is about the desire to look at the future without forgetting the past and the history and the same is for the collection, which is mixing past and present and projecting it into the future,” Vaccarello said in his notes.
The designer, for example, cited as starting points Yves Saint Laurent’s early ‘80s black and white evening suits, pleated trousers from a 1983 collection, but also archival Spencer jackets and boleros, as well as late ‘70s and early ‘80s pajama sets, trousers and robes that “inspired the creation of fluid, light and easy wearing silhouettes for the show,” he said.
Rather than feeling vintage-y, the collection had a timeless appeal. The boundaries between feminine and masculine blurred, as did the lines between everyday pieces and occasion outfits, for a wardrobe designed for eccentric men who feel comfortable in frilled lace shirts, dramatic flowing silk capes matched with skinny pants and lace-up platform shoes, as well as in loose pirate sleeved blouses. Tailoring was enriched with details such as velvet inserts and delicate brooches.
It all added up to another interpretation of Vaccarello’s signature take on cool rock ’n’ roll elegance, this time more romantic than ever.