There are a lot of new faces in important places this season in Paris. Few are more highly anticipated as the premiere of Anthony Vaccarello at Yves Saint Laurent. A spirit of change was in the air. The show took place at a former abbey that will eventually become YSL’s new headquarters. Construction is ongoing, both physically and creatively. Nothing brought that point home more than the giant neon-lit YSL logo suspended by a crane outside the facility. The door has shut on the Hedi Slimane era, and as though to slam that door and lock the key, Yves Saint Laurent’s long-time partner, Pierre Bergé, joyfully sat in the front row accompanied by Hermès Birkin heir Jane Birkin and her daughters. Everything about this season’s show felt like the very antithesis of last season.
Before the show, Vaccarello told Vogue that he wasn’t looking so much to copy the YSL aesthetic as much as grow it and have some fun. There definitely was a new energy to this collection, but it was still based on a 1982 YSL original and Vaccarello did little more than change the fabric and nuance some of the details. Given he’s only been at the house since late June, expecting too much of an impact on a collection that had to have started concepting back in March would be inappropriate. Still, this was nothing like the perpetual train wreck we saw from Hedi Slimane.
If anything, one might accuse Vaccarello of importing some influence from his time at Versace. All his dress hems were super short and super tight. His tops all flirted with deep cuts and low scoops. There were copious amounts of leather as well, which is a staple at both Versace lines. Granted, there are ways of drawing lines to those same elements in the YSL catalog, but it seem’s natural that in all his years working under Donatella some of those touches would rub off.
What was most anticipated was the leather dress that left the left breast exposed. Vaccarello introduced the dress in a video that appeared on the brand’s website and Facebook page four days ago, There was plenty of curiosity as to whether he might cover the bare side with tulle or some other fabric. He didn’t. And while that was the only piece that left the delicate body part completely bare, there were plenty of other times throughout the collection where the sheer fabric left nothing to the imagination. This is a very provocative collection and the more daring the look the more enthusiastic the response.
When Vaccarello stepped out for his bow, the ancient stone structure seemed to shake with the ferocity of the applause. Bergé carefully made his way backstage and was all smiles and encouragement as he greeted the designer.
Yves Saint Laurent has more than a new creative director; it has a new spirit and attitude this brand hasn’t seen in a very long time. We are quite anxious to see what happens next.