Anthony Vaccarello made his name with unfeasibly small and sexy dresses, and in his hugely anticipated debut for Saint Laurent late Tuesday at Paris fashion week, the Belgian designer kept his nose clean and his skirts short.
If the directors of the iconic French brand, whose profits had rocketed to record levels under Hedi Slimane, were worried his replacement might rip up the magic formula, they can rest easy.
For Vaccarello has far from turned his back on Slimane’s expensively grungy rock star chic.
Instead he picked up the uber-bling 1980s-style power glamour of Slimane’s parting show and honed it down in his own sleeker, sexier even blacker image.
For once there were no slits to show off the thighs of the Belgian’s leggy models — the skirts were already too short.
– Blacker than black –
But there was black leather everywhere, from micro-mini skirts, bomber jackets and slinky coats to a mono boob dress that exposed one breast. Elsewhere, he matched leather with sheer bra-less tops.
Yves Saint Laurent, who founded the label, loved black. But Vaccarello seems to love it even more, permitting only the odd burst of denim, lame, silver or white to break its monochrome magnificence.
The most eye-catching things were details, such as the heel on a black stiletto shoe made from the brand’s YSL initials.
YSL’s trademark “smoking” jacket was also referenced in a knowing homage to the singer Grace Jones, a huge fan of the house’s founder.
Celebrities in the front row seemed to love it, with singer Jane Birkin and her actress daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, positioned next to the late Saint Laurent’s partner Pierre Berge. The reaction on social media was also adulatory.
Vaccarello has been developing his sexy, leggy look since he first came to fame with a collection inspired by the Hungarian-Italian porn actress turned politician la Cicciolina.
On the eve of the show, the 36-year-old designer said he had asked to meet Berge, who advised him never to try to copy Saint Laurent.
That said, he took a dress the late designer created in 1982 as his starting point for the show.
Afterwards Berge hailed “an excellent” collection, telling reporters that “I really liked the references” to his former partner’s style, “the codes, the vocabulary and the syntax… after that you can do what you want.”
Vaccarello, who comes from an Italian family, quit Versace’s younger Versus label to take over at the mythic French house in April. He has since shut down his own label to concentrate on Saint Laurent.
Fellow Belgian designer Glenn Martens rounded off the first day of Paris’ nine-day extravaganza with a more subversively sexy show for his Y Project label that seemed to be playing to the postmodern wench, with cleverly deconstructed basques and suspender combinations that harked back 18th century courtly ruffled decadence, with maritime sail cloth touches thrown in for good measure.