Saint Laurent’s ‘Secret’ Send-Off to Paris Fashion Week


PARIS — Paris Fashion Week officially ended with Louis Vuitton on Tuesday night, but a couple of hours later, Anthony Vaccarello delivered his own envoi in the form of a men’s collection for Saint Laurent. Shrouded in secrecy until the last minute, it played to an audience of barely a hundred (compared to Vuitton’s thousands) in the cavernous rotunda of the Bourse de Commerce, the Paris home of the Pinault Foundation. It was carpeted for the occasion in deep black pile as soft as snow, and the models emerged through an enormous arch of black calla lillies and orchids. Huysman’s arch decadent Des Esseintes couldn’t have done a better job of staging a fashion show. And Vaccarello obliged with a collection perfectly tuned to the heady atmosphere.

The formal classicism of the venue excited him because it enhanced the statement he wanted to make about formal, classic menswear. Vaccarello had already teased his big idea with the tailoring he showed towards the end of his women’s show ten days ago: jackets and trousers made with flou, an effect more usually called upon to guarantee the fluid allure of womenswear. In Vaccarello’s suits for men, the only structure was the shoulder epaulette, from which fabric did indeed fall alluringly in the long-skirted, double-breasted cashmere jackets which opened the show. The boxy drape was almost Bogie-like. But, ever attuned to the caprices of Yves Saint Laurent’s own style, Vaccarello was actually thinking about the designer’s look in the 90s, with eyewear and blow-dry for added emphasis.

Saint Laurent Menswear Autumn/Winter 2024
Saint Laurent Menswear Autumn/Winter 2024

Also introduced during the women’s show were black rubber cabans that harked back to Saint Laurent’s beatnik collection in 1962. Here, Vaccarello gave them an extra spin for men when he mentioned “American Psycho.” He pictured Patrick Bateman suited and booted for his Wall Street days, and all rubbered up for his predatory nights. One such rubber coat was closed with a black silk tie, an elegantly sinister flourish. Adding more menace: the visored cap in black leather.

The reference suggested an outré element of fantasy dressing for Vaccarello, who usually favours jeans and t-shirts for his slight frame. “I would love to look like that,” he agreed, “but at the same time I can see when those guys dress, it’s not a fantasy.” After his women’s show, he was faced by a barrage of comments about the literally sheer impracticality of his dresses. “Transparency is not practical to take the Metro,” he acknowledged drolly. “Fashion like that last show is not necessarily for everyone. I remember when I was young, there were shows I loved that I didn’t have the body for, and I couldn’t project myself into those collections. But people want to be part of fashion, without necessarily dressing like the runway. You could wear those jackets with a pair of jeans.”

Saint Laurent Menswear Autumn/Winter 2024
Saint Laurent Menswear Autumn/Winter 2024
Saint Laurent Menswear Autumn/Winter 2024

He had no interest in duplicating the succès de scandale of the women’s collection with anything seethrough, but the flou did bring something subversive to Vaccerello’s menswear — a strong shoulder undercut by ultra-softness. “There’s a sense of fragility,” the designer agreed. “He’s a guy who looks strong, but he’s sensitive. It’s playing with the stereotype of masculinity, but twisted.” Particularly so in the second half of the show, where suits cut from satin-backed crepe georgette in feminine shades of bois de rose, salmon pink and violet took male languor to a gorgeous new dimension. Cillian Murphy is a faithful customer of Saint Laurent. The gold of the Oscar he is expected to get on Sunday night would really stand out against the anthracite tux that closed the show, though Vaccarello insisted Murphy’s a man who feels more comfortable in colour. In which case, may I suggest the bois de rose?

Saint Laurent Menswear Autumn/Winter 2024



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