PARIS, France — In the floodtide of rumour that has washed through the fashion industry this season, the one about Anthony Vaccarello taking over from Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent gained a surprising amount of traction.
Vaccarello said he ignored the gossip, kept his head down and worked on his collection for the past few months. He did, however, concede that it was flattering that at least someone, somewhere, felt he had what it would take to sustain the single-minded intensity of vision that Slimane has brought to Saint Laurent.
That someone clearly recognises the same single-mindedness in Vaccarello. It’s been a blessing for the designer in that it’s defined a strong signature, but it becomes a curse when that signature starts to look written in stone. The 1980s influence, the barely-there-ness, the asymmetrical little scraps of skirt... all of it harked back to past collections.
Vaccarello was born in 1980, so he wasn’t even really a child of that decade, but it’s got its hooks into him. Before his show on Tuesday night, he was talking about Claude Montana, the Grand Vizier of 1980s fashion. A new shape in the shoulder, a super-narrow leg, even his emphasis on a classical ideal of beauty, rather than anything edgy, were all things Vaccarello attributed to Montana’s influence on him.
But the silhouette he called “strong” looked only slightly more dropped than his usual. (Curiously, Simon Jacquemus acquitted himself pretty well with Montana’s linebacker dimensions just an hour or so after Vaccarello’s show.)
There were some developments. Less hardware, colour concentrated in appealing florals, and a sportier flair in a black leather hoodie/dress, an elegantly plain jumpsuit and an odd bit of lacing that looked like the ties on some unidentifiable athletic wear (or — the more obvious choice — a corset, except it was so oddly placed on the body).
But there was still that single-minded signature to contend with: the tiny skirt, slit high on the thigh, with the sheer top draped across the torso, like a Diana the Huntress for the 21st century. Strong? Yes. Overly familiar? Even more so.