Setting the sartorial world abuzz with an intriguing blend of tailored masculinity and delicate femininity, Anthony Vaccarello staged his SAINT LAURENT Spring/Summer 2024 men’s show in Berlin.
Aesthetically a feast, the collection was sprinkled with broad-shouldered tailoring, a tribute to fragile strength draped in sheer silk or chiffon, indicating that Vaccarello is not one to shy away from pushing fashion boundaries.
The avant-garde presentation found its earliest hints not on a traditional press release, but on the ‘Gram. In today’s digital age, it’s almost a prerequisite to scour designer’s social media profiles for sneak peeks before we even arrive at the venue. In Vaccarello’s case, it was a captivating black and white snippet from the French film, “Un Chant d’Amour,” posted days before the show. Titled “Each Man Kills the Things He Loves,” the Vaccarello’s collection is a synthesis of film, literature, and fashion, whispering hints of what to expect on the runway.
For those well-acquainted with French writer Jean Genet’s work, the collection title immediately rings a bell. It’s a verse sung by Jeanne Moreau in a film adaptation of Genet’s celebrated novel, “Querelle de Brest.” The connective thread of Moreau – an icon of the French nouvelle vague – and Rainer Werner Fassbinder – a Berlin film legend – was unmissable. It felt as if Paris and Berlin, two poles of high culture, had married seamlessly on Vaccarello’s runway, woven into the fabric of his bold designs.
However, the spectacle of SAINT LAURENT’s Spring/Summer 2024 was not merely a game of cat-and-mouse with references. Vaccarello’s Berlin presentation was a snapshot from his own life canvas, a reflection of his days as a Brussels student navigating the city’s nightlife. Each city – Paris, Marrakech, and now Berlin – serves as a milestone in Vaccarello’s design journey. These locations offer more than mere geographic influences; they are a fundamental part of the YSL universe.
Vaccarello’s Berlin show was a masterstroke of rigor and subtlety. His design ethos resonated beautifully with the architectural precision of the venue, Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie. He strives to etch the silhouette of his collection in the audience’s mind, seeking to create a design that is articulate, sharp, and uncluttered.
The collection composed of 50 meticulously curated looks, showcased the quintessential YSL tension between “tailleur” and “flou” – structured suiting juxtaposed with airy, sensual, fluid dressing. This concept, though originally deriving from women’s fashion, found a fascinating home in Vaccarello’s menswear. He elegantly reimagined the contours of his women’s collection for the men’s line, cleverly subverting traditional notions of masculinity.
This play between genders was eloquently reflected in the satin tanks under boldly-cut jackets, the high-waisted pants, the flirtatiously dotted shirts, and casual black sweatshirts reimagined as evening wear. The show opened and closed with tuxedos that echoed Vaccarello’s unique design language – broad shoulders, narrow trousers, high-collared shirts, bow ties, and a distinct androgynous chic.
In an insightful backstage comment, Vaccarello stated, “I started to build the collection around the shape of the women’s now being worn by men… To start somewhere very classic, and then play with the codes of masculinity.” His vision came full circle with a nod to Moreau’s “Querelle,” encapsulating a scene where she swathes herself in a man’s jacket, implying the blur of gender lines in fashion.
Echoing Vaccarello’s exploration of gender fluidity were elements like leopard spots or polka dots – motifs recurrent throughout the collection – appearing in sensuously wrapped shirts or one-shouldered tops. The latter had bow-tie necklines cascading downwards, evoking a veil’s mystery. Transfiguring everyday black sweatshirting into couture-like evening attire, he presented a relaxed version of smoking pants, adding a layer of laid-back sophistication.
Vaccarello’s reinterpretation of the traditional tuxedo deserves special applause. These ensembles, much like the rest of his collection, followed a distinct design schema: broad, well-defined shoulders juxtaposed with lean trousers. Infused with androgynous chic, they were reminiscent of the iconic Lydia Tar aesthetic. This parallel, albeit unintended, cemented the collection’s Berlin-inspired undertones, as Tar’s film was set and filmed in the city itself.
The SAINT LAURENT Spring/Summer 2024 men’s show was not just a fashion event but a spectacular narrative interweaving literature, film, and personal experiences. Vaccarello’s artistry lies not only in his deft tailoring and meticulous designs but also in his ability to tell compelling stories through his creations. His commitment to pushing boundaries, experimenting with conventional gender norms, and crafting exceptional pieces continues to make him one of the most exciting designers in the industry. With this collection, he reaffirms that fashion, much like art, is a universal language that transcends geographical and cultural barriers.
Click on this link to read this article in French version