It was quite the set-up: The Trocadéro esplanade, installed with 10 stylized white palm trees reflected in the vast, serene pool constructed as a shimmering runway against the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. The show was timed perfectly for the first model to appear just after the tower’s 8 p.m., on-the-hour twinkling light show went dark.
Saint Laurent’s co-opting of that famous symbol of French allure is part of the brand’s winning formula right now. It has been on an impressive upward trajectory, with turnover climbing 19.8 percent in the second quarter, and the company makes no bones about valuing sartorial consistency over wild swings. To that end, from a messaging perspective, Anthony Vaccarello’s runways are about one thing: sexy dressing a la française. His is a straight-forward concept with legs that requires great legs. Whatever the fashion and cultural winds du jour, some women will always dress to show their bodies. Vaccarello obliges, often with looks that are itty-bitty. That was certainly the case for spring, filled with short dresses, skirts and (the hottest) HotPants, which, one assumes, even Saint Laurent’s most ardent fans will consider primarily for show. Yet for all its heat, this was a straight-forward collection, mostly about jackets. Vaccarello showed plenty of great-looking options — smoking, blazer, baseball, Sergeant Pepper — some basic, others embellished and sparkly. While many topped those short-shorts, several real-pants silhouettes worked a more pragmatic angle. In fact, apart from the finale’s alternating parade of floaty goddess gowns and photo-op swimwear, that’s what this collection was about: items for the customer to buy and wear as she will.
That Vaccarello is unrelenting in his adherence to his commercial, sexy aesthetic — great. (Caveat: Several looks that exposed the breasts felt tone-deaf, especially at this moment of heightened attention to respecting models.) In fashion, conviction matters, and designers shouldn’t feel compelled to go the something-for-everyone route. And Vaccarello is attracting the Holy Grail customer with his wares; Millennials comprise the majority of the brand’s customer base. That said, the jacket parade grew lean, and from a news perspective, this collection was wanting.