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Get Ready For The Anthony Vaccarello Saint Laurent Revolution

The fact that the Saint Laurent show was moved up from the later half of the Paris Fashion Week calendar to the opening night – a slot generally taken up by emerging labels, if at all – is symbolic enough of the brand wanting change, and for people to know that.

Change after four electrifying and highly successful years under Hedi Slimane who basically set the standard for I-don’t-give-a-damn cool during his tenure, and then called it quits this April with equally badass nonchalance. Change because Anthony Vaccarello, the man tasked to take over, is a rookie compared to Slimane both in terms of influence and the ability to lead one of fashion’s most important labels – and could do with all the help he can get to prove his mettle. (Disclaimer: This author is a Slimane devotee.)

So the big question on the evening of Vaccarello’s debut as Saint Laurent’s creative director on Sept 27 was, “Can the man deliver and usher in a new era?”. Some diehards might disagree, but the 53-look showcase was a pleasantly refreshing departure from Slimane’s rock ‘n’ roll-obsessed collections without losing their provocateur edge. Below, everything from the show that got my thumbs up, including the looks to love.

November 2019
Events & Promos
The show setting
Pre-show, Vaccarello already piqued interest (and scored brownie points) by sending the show invite in a square, black leather sheath with a gold metal tag engraved with the words “Saint Laurent”. Nothing, however, could quite prepare for what greeted guests at the show location. The address was 37, Rue de Bellechasse, the site of the brand’s upcoming headquarters (to be completed in 2018) and literally a construction site that included a gaping hole in the ground, over which hung the brand’s neon-lit Cassandre logo from a crane. The show setting
Besides lining the ceilings in mirror, everything else about the work-in-progress building was completely raw – from the concrete runway to exposed doorways and windows that allowed for some dramatic shadow play. Vaccarello's NSFW approach
Why is this a good thing? Because before Saint Laurent, Vaccerello was best known for his eponymous label (it’s currently been put on hold) that made hot-blooded sex appeal fashionable again. Think the tiniest skirts, tightest of dresses, and boob-baring numbers that would never make it past Instagram’s censorship police (trust me, it took me a while to settle on the above picture – a lace see-through number with no visible nips). Some debut designers feel pressured to conform to house codes and what predecessors have done. Vaccarello respected all that while still putting his own stamp hard and clear. The bad taste factor
The key inspiration was Paloma Picasso, who inspired the brand’s controversial 1972 “Scandal” collection. (Panned for being vulgar – plunging necklines, ultra short hemlines, no undies, porno prints – it in fact introduced individuality to the high brow world of couture and can be said to be the start of the bottom-up effect in modern fashion.) Considering Vaccarello’s own affinity for provocative silhouettes, it proved to be the perfect foundation for his debut, underscored by strong whiffs of ’80s kitsch. The drop shoulder silhouette
Drawn from an archival dress with exaggerated sleeves, it anchored the opening looks – rendered in leather; the shoulders pushed down to create a fresh take on ’80s puff-sleeved bustier tops and dresses. One of the most exciting silhouettes to emerge from the Spring Summer 2017 season, it’s going to be everywhere, and what you should own from the collection. The Americana denim
While about 80 per cent of the collection was all black leather, lace and tailoring (a nod to the brand’s signature tuxedo, of course), Vaccarello threw in an oversized denim jacket (slipped under a leather bomber, complete with leather mini skirt), and denim boyfriend jeans (worn with leather bustiers or asymmetrical sleeved tops). The combination bears hints of New York street cool and feels at once youthful and effortless. Cool girls, this is how to do denim after dark next season. The reinvention of the tux
A skirt suit with a patent leather jacket; a tailored mini dress with a dipping V-shaped neckline; a cigarette-slim gilet worn with a sheath skirt and see-through cami. Vaccarello valiantly set out to reinterpret the brand’s signature tuxedo and tailoring savoir faire in as many ways possible and was largely successful. My favourite take? When he paired classic tuxedo pants with flat boots for a tomboy cool. Click on for more from Vaccarello's new cool girl army for Saint Laurent

Like this? Find out more about the young designers exciting editor Noelle Loh now, why being in the fashion industry is hard work and 11 great runway moments from Anthony Vacarrello.