Men’s – Vertical Chic. Saint Laurent AW23

For the last couple of seasons, Anthony Vaccarello has been delivering his best womenswear collections for Saint Laurent. He’s starting to refine (and redefine) the menswear line as well. Long, tall, lean – those were the words that spontaneously shot to mind while the designer was sending out the autumn-winter 2023 collection that swept away the gendering of clothes with every passing flick of its floor-grazing coat-tails. At Saint Laurent, it was instantly very clear: Vaccarello has been building on the dramatically attenuated silhouettes that have been striding out at his women’s collections recently, and their transference into menswear is now complete. “I really want them to be almost one person,” he said. “So women could be the men, and the men could be the women. No difference. I want more and more to put them at the same level. No distinction.” While the audience reclined on a circular banquette, sipping Champagne at the perimeter of a beige center-stage, it was equally apparent that Vaccarello was speaking about his idea of what drop-dead elegance means to people of his own generation. In material terms, that translates to dark, vertical, narrow coats; black leather and velvet; necks exaggeratedly tied in flourishing bows or sunk funnel-necks; the cool, tailored swagger of Smoking jackets, the cache-coeur drape of tops and chest-revealing cowl-front silk shirts that plunge into wrapped cummerbunds. Whereas what was for “her” was pioneeringly co-opted from “him” by Yves Saint Laurent in the 1960s and ’70s, now Vaccarello has reversed the process in the 2020s. Of course, the codes of the house offer endless gifts to play with on the menswear scale: patent block heels, adaptations of the pussy-bow see-through chiffon blouse, a hint of the North African draped hood. Vaccarello did all that, with a confidence and conviction that is all his own. What’s progressive about it is the way he’s pushed past anything that might be categorized as “blurry,” “fluid” or “neutral.” In the bigger scheme of fashion, his contribution is bringing exactly the opposite qualities to rethinking clothes and gender: what Vaccarello deals in is rigor, precision, and a brilliant ability to cut. It was a true Saint Laurent on-brand orchestration (with a little help from Charlotte Gainsbourg, who while wearing a black velvet tuxedo played on the piano in the middle of the Bource De Commerce venue), for sure, but a resonantly relevant step forward for the designer too.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Flowing. Saint Laurent Resort 2023

Anthony Vaccarello is staying close to the obsession he’s been evolving lately at Saint Laurent: the super-chic and ultra-elegant flowing, languid, maxi silhouettes. The silk skirts are floor-sweeping, the boxy coats are long, the eveningwear is all about the body-clinging column. For resort 2023 (which serves as a sweet entrée to the fabulous spring-summer 2023 fashion show collection), all the YSL-isms are here, but adjusted because Vaccarello has that ineffable way of remaking their proportions to feel totally right for the moment we’re in. Like the draped cocktailania of Monsieur Saint Laurent’s ’80s and ’90s reinvented into tiny dresses and just as tiny bodysuits. Vaccarello has been busy perfecting his drapery style for some time now. What else resonates here, what gets that eye fixated on the proceedings, is how this collection tackles the twin pillars that the house of Saint Laurent was built on, the mid-century couture-era codes of tailleur and flou, that are the very guiding principles of French fashion. Vaccarello gives the collision of those two approaches a very distinctly personal spin: gorgeously frothy chiffon dresses, with flouncing hems come with cabans embellished with blowsy blooms, or beaten-up leather bomber jackets. Heritage, tradition, and craft, but handled with a snap and crackle. This is an example of really good in fashion in 2023.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!

NET-A-PORTER Limited