Anthony Vaccarello’s first men’s Saint Laurent show in Paris was a strong, sensual, romantic, ceremonial reflection of the Yves-centric womenswear aesthetic that defines his work, finds Anders Christian Madsen. Here, five things to know.
It was Saint Laurent’s first men’s show in Paris
It was porn for precision freaks: every detail and every curve of Anthony Vaccarello’s first men’s show for Saint Laurent in Paris was so breathtakingly clean and defined that it hit you with entrancing effect. Presented in Tadao Ando’s chalky white cylinder within the Bourse de Commerce—a celestial alabaster light cast from its painted ceilings—it was like watching classical statues slowly moving around the great hall: their faces angelically chiselled, their shoulders heroically arched, their clothes draped like Hellenistic veils. “I like the masculine and the sculpted. The contradiction of that with the softness,” Vaccarello said casually before the show, but this was anything but a casual experience.
It was the perfect counterpart to Saint Laurent’s womenswear
“For me, when I see this collection, I feel like it’s my second collection. My first was last season in Marrakech and this is the second one,” Vaccarello said, reflecting on the menswear proposals that came before. “I think, before, it was me, but maybe it was too separate from the women’s. More and more, I want them to be almost one person. The man goes to the women’s and the woman goes to the men’s—there’s no difference. Before they were not at the same level and I really want to put them there.” He did that and more, in a highly considered proposal masterfully carved out in a kind of monochromatic, wistful masculinity: a strong, sensual, romantic, ceremonial reflection of the Yves-centric womenswear aesthetic that defines his work.
Charlotte Gainsbourg played the piano
Backed up by a pianist on a grand piano—who eventually gave it over to Charlotte Gainsbourg (in a flared velvet tuxedo) for the finale—there was, at first sight, a dandy-esque ballroom quality to the pussy-bowed shirts and floor-sweeping coats that floated down Vaccarello’s round runway. At closer inspection, it wasn’t as simple as that: under those coats were fluidly-cut, elongated sweatpants posing as a kind of tuxedo trousers in a generational code-switch that was truly impressive. Not because Vaccarello bringing sportswear into an elegant wardrobe is revolutionizing, but because he actually made it look and feel like a bona fide formal proposition—a real generational formality, if you will.
Vaccarello put his masculine womenswear silhouette on men
“Part of these clothes are from the last women’s show. It’s an evolution from the long dresses and the knits,” Vaccarello explained backstage, gesturing at the long coats and sweaters in his running order, which echoed those that waltzed around the glimmering light of the Eiffel Tower last September. But while you could easily draw lines between the two collections, the gender question didn’t feel that pronounced here. After seasons of fortifying a masculine tailoring silhouette in his women’s shows, switching it over to a male physique—in more or less the same proportions as his womenswear—made for an interesting transition: a genuinely genderless way of cutting.
It showed that patience is a virtue
Vaccarello’s first men’s show in Paris epitomized the focus and attention to detail that have defined his collections over the past year. “Each look is considered to a fault,” the show notes read, and they weren’t exaggerating. It went to show that fashion—contrary to public and often business belief—has time and patience for development, for obsessively studying the same detail over and over again, and for evolving a look and a wardrobe that people want to wear for more than just a season. Listening to people’s conversations walking out of the Bourse, that certainly seemed to be the consensus at Saint Laurent.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.