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The insurmountable responsibility of designing a collection for Saint Laurent goes without saying. Following Hedi Slimane’s recent and massive commercial and critical success, the attention on Anthony Vacarello’s second collection for the legendary house could not have been greater. The Fall-Winter 2017 collection was shown at Saint Laurent’s under-construction location on the Rue de Bellechasse in Paris.
The Italian-Belgian designer presented the collection as an appreciation and reinterpretation Yves Saint Laurent’s “dark romanticism with a hint of perversity,” as Vacarello described. The collection aims to address this complex femininity, playing with several subtle paradoxes. Feminine and sensually-cut dresses made their way only a few inches down the models’ legs and were crafted from folds upon heavy folds of structural leathers and shearlings. Black and various shades of warm, retro, cognac tones beat their way down the runway to trance-like electronic sounds. These leathers were repurposed as endlessly-creased, knee-high boots, as well as knotty flower forms that garnished chokers and dresses, alike. While clearly inspired by the evening and after-hours, the collection retained a casual, basic, and wearable appeal. The 80’s lived on in party-inspired exaggerated shoulders, countless crystal rhinestones, pitch black velvet, and shining patent leather. Unmistakable, sculptural shapes and silhouettes found themselves in nearly ever design.
Although the runway show included both men’s and women’s looks, the healthy population of Saint Laurent menswear aficionados may still need to see more if the brand’s mother-company Kering wishes to keep up their heavy, Slimane-fueled fandom. Out of over one-hundred looks sent down the catwalk, only a handful were men’s. A variety of leather jackets were paired with knit-wear, followed by a later burst of skinny trousers and several decadent tuxedos.
Vacarello paid close attention to the archives in his debut collection, and for his second time around, the designer has done an applaudable job of approaching the brand’s multidimensional femininity through rough, confrontational romanticism. He also met the challenging prospect of respecting the French house’s heritage whilst remaining true to himself and his style as a designer. Gowns with waist-high slits splitting up a lone thigh– a Vacarello trademark– made a few loud appearances in the collection.
Casting for the show was refreshingly inclusive. The broad range of models made the presentation’s statement even more powerful. Rugged and feminine styles had a deceptive simplicity that created an in-your-face impact. The industrial, stadium-like location only added to the excitement. Like a warehouse party, the evening-ready looks felt strangely at home in the cold, dark expanse of an edifice. There is a legacy to be left behind, and it’s only a matter of time to experience the mark that Anthony Vacarello will leave behind. In the meantime, he is still afloat and thriving in his an environment of striking, sexy, and aggressive styles.
WRITTEN BY HOLLIS DE LANEY
PHOTO CREDIT: SAINT LAURENT