Paris Day 1: Saint Laurent After Hedi Slimane

YSL Spring 2017 Overlay - Getty - H 2016
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THR's senior fashion editor Booth Moore reports on the glitzy comings and goings of Paris Fashion Week.

It was the first of several designer debuts happening this Paris Fashion Week, which kicked off Tuesday and goes through Oct. 5. And it was a big one.

Anthony Vaccarello, the Italian-Belgian designer known for his provocative, slit-up-to-there gowns, showed his first collection as creative director of Saint Laurent, following the departure of creative director Hedi Slimane in March of 2016 after only three years at the helm.

And although Paris fashion royalty was in attendance (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Lou Doillon, Jane Birkin), Hollywood royalty wasn’t.

Slimane’s Saint Laurent had its spiritual and physical home in Los Angeles, where the designer relocated his atelier from Paris, a move that added credibility to the city’s burgeoning style scene. He took inspiration from the music world, the boardwalk and the street, featuring a diverse cast of muses in his ad campaigns, ranging from Courtney Love to Marilyn Manson to Joni Mitchell, and discovered new music talent, too, filling the coffers of the Kering-owned brand in the process. He even hosted a runway show in L.A. in February.

But Vaccarello’s house is still under construction.

The symbolism was unmistakable as you walked into the venue, a shell of a building on the Left Bank, which will become the Saint Laurent headquarters in 2018. There was even a building crane, holding aloft a giant YSL logo.

The show space was open to the outdoors and had a mirrored ceiling, so you could see the models reflected as they walked. The clothes were nearly all black, leather and lace, sleeves exaggerated, skirts short and shorter.  And there were nipples…lots of them, even a sequined pastie on a bare breast, left exposed by a cutaway strapless leather dress. The message? Vaccarello is putting the naughty French back into Saint Laurent.

THE NEW CLASSICS: Looks from Saint Laurent's spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)

The starting point for the collection was the style icon Paloma Picasso, youngest daughter of the artist Pablo Picasso. She had a penchant for dressing in flea market finds, and was a muse to Yves Saint Laurent, inspiring his 1972 “Scandal” collection.

From there, Vaccarello channeled the classic codes of the house of YSL through his own hyper sexy lens. There were flamboyant ‘80s single puff sleeve lace blouses and bustiers, worn with black trousers or rolled up jeans. Le smoking tuxedo looks were also represented, of course, but without the slim line tailoring and sculpted shoulders that were Slimane signatures. One tuxedo dress, worn by a model with a flat top, brought to mind an '80s era Grace Jones.  But there was no hiding the fact that many pieces, including trousers and jackets, lacked sharpness and a precise fit.

FLAT TOP, PASTIES: Looks from Saint Laurent's spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)

Slimane’s rich hippies and ladies of the canyon had flown the coop, save for a couple of tapestry jackets. But there were whiffs of Yves’ Opium scented-heyday in the tassel earrings and gold lame wrap dresses. Shoes had heels carved into the letters YSL.

There were plenty of clothes for rock stars still, but overall, there wasn’t a strong brand identity articulated, at least not yet. How Vaccarello will bring Saint Laurent into the now, and whom he will choose as his famous muses to help him, is the big question.

“It was a departure, wasn’t it,” famed L.A. retailer Tommy Perse of Maxfield said afterward. 

I’ll say. We'll see where it takes us.

NEW YSL: Looks from Saint Laurent's spring 2017 collection. (Photos: Getty Images)