PFW AW22: Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello

ECHOING the Parisian winter’s sky that it was set beneath, the Saint Laurent AW22 collection was coated in black, accentuated only by glittering metals that reflected the stars, or one could argue, the Eiffel Tower that twinkled nearby.

It’s a triumphant, if not brave, palette to solely pursue as a designer, but it is unsurprising.

In the last five years since he took the reins, Anthony Vaccarello has quickly proven his masterful hand in building Saint Laurent’s promising future and everlasting legacy, one which has always paid homage to the archive in its process.

His AW22 collection for the luxury house was no different. Looking back to Yves Saint Laurent’s infatuation with the Art Deco movement (one of Yves’ earliest, most prized acquisitions for his personal collection of objects was a pair of Dunand vases originally exhibited in 1925 at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs), Vaccarello celebrated the radical elan of art deco on the Saint Laurent runway, something that Yves rarely showcased when designing his own.

The reference is not literal, reiterates the show notes. Instead it is fused into the shadows left by the towering shoulders; in the rich essence of the darker and even darker tones; and in the blend of masculine notes with fluttering feminine finishes – an ode to Nancy Cunard, the independent-minded activist publisher whose unique style epitomised the 1920s.

Cunard serves as the muse and the guiding template for AW22, which is an exemplary and foreseeable choice when you consider Vaccarello’s track record of challenging the gendered codes within dressing.

The bangles that enveloped model’s arms were a nod to the Cunard bracelet trademark, the hair too, a signifier of the short slicked down hair that she became synonymous with, and the flute-like dresses with tailored paletot-styled coat pairing was a clear rendition of what became known as the Cunnard uniform.

And despite the permeation of Art Deco across the collection, there was an undeniable feeling of authenticity, as well as innovation, in the designs. The mid length, v-neck overcoat is clearly a development of the ‘80s big sloping shoulder dresses that came in an array of colours for SS22, the dance-wear tights are reminiscent of the latex flux of AW20, and the carnations decorating the waists of dresses could well be an evolution of the ‘60s floral inspiration of Resort 21.

As for the innovation, one glance at the gloriously extravagant imitation furs of the collection and you are convinced of the level of expertise. Working with the same artisans of previous collections, for AW22, Vaccarello created floor-sweeping faux fur, faux fur trims, and exquisitely tailored faux fur in the richest of shades.

This is a collection that demonstrates the lengths faux fur can be manipulated, and even more importantly, why furriers don’t need to pack in their businesses just because materials have changed. This is an exciting time for fur, and Vaccarello is evidently enjoying himself.

So although the AW22 collection is initially digested as a wardrobe of neutrals, with the blank canvas comes little ability to hide – all details and elements are heightened for inspection on an even grander scale. Thus encompassing the very beauty of Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent’s designs.

With subtle yet precise elegance, the clothes within this collection ooze refined maturity and lay claim to the power of simplicity. As the show notes read, “restraint need not be joyless”.

by Lily Rimmer