How to take the heat out of a brand’s scorching sales figures and searing profits? Try throwing a bucket of ice-cold water over it.
For his second show at Saint Laurent since joining last April, Anthony Vaccarello staged his AW17 collection at the brand’s new headquarters on Rue de Bellechasse. Guests sat on marble-topped bleachers surrounded by scaffolding and great pits of building debris as the wind howled and the sleet fell (even the complimentary Saint Laurent blankets were insufficient insulation from the frigid evening air).
Pity the poor models, then, little waifs, as they tried to propel their long, etiolated Saint Laurent limbs against the elements, like Dr Zhivago on his pilgrimage to Yuriatin. Rather than wearing military broadcloth, though, this particular army was dressed in one-shouldered cocktail dresses, minidresses with corset tops and huge fanned asymmetric details, or shiny leather trousers and négligée silks, worn with ruched leather boots that slouched below the knee.
Some of the looks were worn with arm-length shearling leather gauntlets that rose around the neck in a super-villain collar; the shoulder silhouette was knife-sharp and pointy, while the details were ruffled and soft. I wrote the words “red patent heels”, “cable-knit sweaters” and “Loulou” in my notes (a sweater had the name of Yves Saint Laurent’s outrageous muse Loulou de la Falaise on its front), then my fingers went numb and the blanket blew over my face.
In truth, there wasn’t much here that you mightn’t expect from the house that has been delivering hard-edged, rock-youth cool since March 2012, when Vaccarello’s predecessor Hedi Slimane first shook up the French house and rewrote the codes of Saint Laurent. As with his first collection last September, Vaccarello’s focus is a more hi-glam shiny 1980s version of rock chic, and a slouchier, sloppier fit, but the new signatures of the house were all well represented: day jackets, classic coats, denim and disco dresses.
There was menswear also, bare-chested chaps in shearling jackets and belted leathers, the first Saint Laurent has offered since the Palladium show in Los Angeles a year ago (not counting the single menswear look in his debut collection in September). The finale offered an evening update: black velvet gowns all studded with silver crystals and worn with glittering, sparkly boots; a silvery mesh slip dress; a velvet Le Smoking with satin lapels. It was business-like bling, with some really quite wearable options. I wonder if they come with thermals?