Paris Fashion Week: Saint Laurent Brings the Beach to the Base of the Eiffel Tower

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Saint Laurent Spring 2019

This could be the season that Paris fashion designers get serious about swimwear.

This may be the runway season that Paris designers get serious about swimwear.

On Tuesday night during Paris Fashion Week, Saint Laurent designer Anthony Vaccarello brought the beach to the base of the Eiffel Tower, installing ghost palm trees around the Trocadero Fountain and a runway-length reflecting pool for models to splash through.

After a parade of superbly executed evening jackets — tuxedo, velvet, star-studded and band-leader styles — polka-dot pussy blouses, cigarette pants, cutoff denim shorts and covetable glam rock platform shoes with attitude, Vaccarello took the plunge into swim.

This was no afterthought, however, not the lone bikini here or one-piece swimsuit there to remind show-goers what season they are looking at (spring 2019).

This was a full-on resort lifestyle wardrobe of gorgeously draped and cinched, cutout and shoulder-padded, leopard-print and spangled swimsuits for every occasion. (A nightclub in Ibiza, an afterparty at Coachella or cocktails on a yacht in the Mediterranean would be totally fitting.)

All manner of sheer coverups and breezy kaftans (in the grand, exotic Moroccan tradition of the house's founder Yves Saint Laurent himself), some of which could double as evening gowns, were interspersed in between, creating a whole new category for the luxury fashion house, on top of the covetable range of shoppable spring merch that preceded it, hippie headbands, neckerchiefs, straw boater hats, oversized star earrings and all.

There was at once more pragmatism to Vaccarello's collection this season (no tricky Flintstones hems, just a lot to buy at many price points) and more free-wheeling fantasy, in the form of the kind of the kind of rock 'n' roll hedonism we expect from Saint Laurent. It really felt like Vaccarello had found his groove, even if that groove was looking back a bit to Saint Laurent's recent heyday under former designer Hedi Slimane.

On Monday afternoon, up-and-comer Simon Porte Jacquemus hit a similar note of escapism, traveling to the Riviera with a lineup of resort-ready looks. And why not? No longer simply for around the pool or on vacation, resort wear has become a hot category in fashion, with the rise of niche labels like Lisa Marie Fernandez, Rhode Resort and more, offering breezy dresses, kimonos and kaftans that have become summer-in-the-city wardrobe staples (especially as the climate continues to heat up).

Jacquemus' fantasy was a woman wearing a modernist-print bikini and rope-wrapped heels, or a swimsuit-as-bodysuit under a loosely draped dress, with a super-sized (or super-small) straw bag in tow. Hosting his show at the Italian embassy on a throwback raised runway, it was the ultimate escapist fare. All that was missing was an Aperol spritz.