Chic, No? Saint Laurent AW23

Anthony Vaccarello‘s work at Saint Laurent has reached new levels of creative success since the designer started to read the YSL glossary and began translating its nuances and quintessences into contemporary interpretation of painfully hot, Parisian chic. The autumn-winter 2023 collection, presented on an elevated, chandelier-lit runway that looked exactly like the one on which Yves presented his shows in the 1980s, focused on a look as simple (and eternally good-looking) as a masculine, big-shouldered jacket worn with a pencil skirt. This power-look came down the runway in various fabric and silhouette iterations, nearly always kept in black or white with pops of tartan plaid or earthy brown. Some of these sharp blazers evolved into flowing, floor-sweeping capes of silk or velvet (for the evening), or were nonchalantly wrapped with plaid scarves (for a rainy, Parisian day). There’s really not much more to say about the collection except for the fact it’s another impressive exercise of refinement coming from Vaccarello, and a very seductive, smart, and commercially-vital homage to the YSL legacy. In the voice of a Catherine Deneuve-esque Parisienne, “chic, no?

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

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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!

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Trip And Strip. Saint Laurent SS17

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The debut collection by Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent is behind us, and we’ve got the first image of how the new creative director approaches the brand. We know Anthony’s aesthetic at his namesake label, which is mostly about leather, sexy mini-lengths. Hedi Slimane, Vaccarello’s predecessor, was exactly that during his tenure at Saint Laurent, with his sultry LA rock band attire. It was fairly predictable that some of the looks for Saint Laurent will be nearly undistinguishable from the Belgian/Italian designer’s own line. In other words, the label’s clients, who are less aware of fashion industry twists, won’t note a big change in the brand’s ready-to-wear range. At least, those boyfriend jeans, draped gold lamé dresses and classy le smoking suits were far, far away from Slimane’s frequently despised vulgarity.

The 80’s played a role in Vaccarello’s spring-summer 2017: it’s another brand which continues a venture into the topic of over-sized sleeves-of-mutton this season. Also, a big 1980’s moment appeared in the collection as an abundance of iconic YSL logo, designed by Cassandre back in 1961. It was everywhere, from the logo-shaped heels to zirconia embellished tights. The shoes stole the spotlight of the show, and Instagram adored this fashion moment – but is it that ground-breaking? Stefano Pilati did a very similar thing with accessories, when he was at helm of the brand.

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Vaccarello previewed his collection and its “new” mood a few weeks before the presentation, by releasing Inez & Vinoodh’s mini-video starring Anja Rubik. Polish model, who’s privately best friends with the designer, trips and strips along the Seine to the tune of a melancholic song by Michelle Gurevich. Anja really does look like the song’s “Party Girl“, and it’s pretty visible that the cult of a nonchalant, chic Parisienne continues to be alive in the codes of Saint Laurent. Although the debut collection is a bit of a cliché, the pieces briefly convey Yves Saint Laurent’s style in a relevant way. It’s the time that will show Anthony’s strength as a designer of such brand.

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Farewell, Hedi!

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After months of speculations, Kering has confirmed – Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent. Did Hedi realise that there is not enough place for him and Demna Gvasalia, the other designer who makes cheap-looking clothes with four digit price-tags? Let’s be clear – Slimane, during his three-and-a-half year tenure was the master of hypocrisy. Do you remember the autumn-winter 2013, when he presented mohair cardigans, studded boots and skimpy, leather dresses? Some said it was a modern-day nod to Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial Le Scandale collection. But some were more realistic, and not that optimistic – these clothes looked like grunge, but a la River Island circa 2010 rather than Kurt Cobain. Even though in the same year Courtney Love became the face of Saint Laurent. If talking of another odd things that happened during Slimane’s “era” – the tiaras from SS16. One costs, yes, 995 euros here. And it gets even more ironic, when you note that this is a prom-like, brass tiara embellished with rhinestone. Not with gems, silver or, huh, diamonds. I doubt it’s even Swarovski.

However, Hedi Slimane can be at least praised for the speed and desperation with which he had totally revamped the house. The interiors of the flagship stores, which used to be so boring with Stefano Pilati in charge, got the marble upgrade, while the advertisement campaigns – starring Kim Gordon, Joni Mittchel and lately, Jane Birkin – were always photographed by him, and had a cool, LA-rooted rock’n’roll spark. Also, it’s reported that the revenue of the brand increased in all categories, from accessories to clothes. People are buying Saint Laurent, so there is surely an undefined reason for Slimane’s success. But then, why did he leave? And will Anthony Vaccarello, whose aesthetic isn’t far from Hedi’s, get the point? Time will tell. But for now, let’s look back at the journey that Slimane took us to.

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