At Paris Fashion Week, the venues Saint Laurent erects for its women’s shows are certainly non-pareil—gigantic architectural constructs with a built-in vista calculated to appropriate the Eiffel Tower itself as a super high-prestige prop. This season for Saint Laurent spring/summer 2024 was a mind-boggling marble platform, a momentous stage upon which Anthony Vaccarello did something unexpected: he stripped everything back.
“I wanted to doing almost nothing,” he’d dramatically declared backstage earlier. “I see so many complicated things, so many embroideries, so many decorative things, that I wanted to take it all off, to do no more than necessary. To make a clean canvas. Start again a new chapter for Saint Laurent.”
Everything he designed—bar the mousseline evening wear—was in cotton this season; all of it based on the ‘Saharien’ jacket—the idea that Yves Saint Laurent brought from his North African upbringing and made into revolutionary Parisian fashion in 1967. Still, even that template wasn’t simple enough for what Vaccarello wanted to do. “I took off the cross-lacing,” he noted.
‘Basic’ or ‘humble’ are hardly the words for it, though. Whatever Vaccarello touches can’t help radiating the fierce, put-together Parisian glamour that Saint Laurent owns as a house. Every look came with a full ’80s maquillage, slicked hair and giant gilt door-knocker earrings. Sharp, impenetrable conceptual aviators were worn. Brown leather gauntlets, circled with huge metal bangles were oh-so-casually shoved in pockets. Towering heels took on—yes, surely it was—the conceptual shape of the Eiffel Tower.
Was this the Saint Laurent’s version of quiet luxury? Maybe so, but it’s hardly going to make wallflowers of Vaccarello’s women. As Diana Vreeland famously put it, “Elegance is refusal.” In times of maximalism and performative, extreme fashion made solely for one-off events, going ultra simple and ultra chic is a sure way to stand apart from the herd.
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This article was originally published on Vogue.com.