Saint Laurent’s Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear runway sat opposite the Tour d’Eiffel, hailing the twinkling tower with a series of spotlights above.
As the first model emerged from the darkness, bare legs first, a blanket sense of mystique seemed to settle atop the audience: Which A-List model would be leading Saint Laurent into the new season? Naturally, it was expected to be Kaia Gerber, current It Girl and the fashion industry’s sweetheart of the moment. Instead, Mathilde Henning’s delicate features were first to appear, overshadowed by a wide brim hat.
A sense of couture-goth-goes-to-Coachella swept the chiaroscuro painted runway. Each look as monochromatic as the last, graduated seamlessly into the next while progressing from leather hot pants and tweed belts to tassels, to neck scarves and ankle-threatening platforms. It seems the Saint Laurent women will be catching a cold this coming fall. The show’s main attraction could have been mistaken to be the elongated legs—those tiny leather short shorts are far too desirable to resist.
“For me, short is the best way to describe modernity,” creative director Anthony Vaccarello said. “It’s the best way to walk…the legs are not something you have to hide.”
Meticulously, Vaccarello lined the collection with the signature rockstar girlfriend aesthetic—initiated by former creative director Hedi Slimane—ensuring the black palette worn by braless models in lace blouses competed not only with skin, but with impeccably tailored sequin and velvet blazers. Surely, it will be the season of textures: angsty teen winged eye liner was paired with fur pelt earrings dangling beneath the shoulder and embellished head wraps. As Gucci goes furless, Saint Laurent is ‘fur-throttle’, with one attitudinal coat shape paying homage to Naomi Campbell pumping down the 1997 runway in her own green fur.
The 1980’s neckline and linebacker shoulder pads stuttered to a halt just as Vaccarello sent the Saint Laurent men down the runway. There began a more classic take on the rocker aesthetic, apparent in the skin restricting jeans, bedazzled undershirts, and velvet or pinstripe suits. The statements of weighty blanket scarves and fuzzy Ugg boot look-a-likes complimented the traditional silhouettes while maintaining the daring YSL brand testimonial.
Looks were reminiscent of Rolling Stones frontmen, greeting the employee delivering room service the morning after an all-nighter, still wearing the outfits from the afterparty 12 hours prior.
As the daywear became menswear, which finally became evening wear, it wasn’t odd to question whether Vaccarello was in mourning. For most of the collection, the show was governed by a dark palette. But this feeling diminished adroitly as black subsided to a parade of hued florals, elegantly placed on dark fabric and conjuring the spirit of organic life. These dresses were a new collection on their own: they blossomed from black with sensual low or protective mock necklines; forgiving or cinched waistlines; sleeveless or cold shoulders.
Of course, Saint Laurent doesn’t have seasonal depression. The collection is a pathetic fallacy; a sartorial mimicking of the fall weather. Its colour palette carefully expresses a grieving sky, just as the sun is replaced by heavy clouds and flurries of snow. But there is still hope. Cyclical as the seasons are, those snowflakes must soon subside to rain, drifting from the coolness of the winter months and into freshly blooming spring.
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