The message during Anthony Vaccarello’s tenure at Saint Laurent has been simple, consistent, and powerful: the relationship between our body and the clothes we choose to cover (or not cover) it with is an empowering one. The concept of ‘body’ has been at the centre of much of his work, which concerns itself with both micro and macro silhouettes, with overt sex appeal and subersive androgyny.
And so for Spring/Summer 2023, it’s not entirely surprising that Vaccarello took as inspiration the great dancer and choreographer Martha Graham. Namely, the tubular sheath Graham wore in ‘Lamentation’, the modern dance solo she unveiled in New York in 1930. Vaccarello was compelled by the idea of “enveloping the body from head to toe”, according to the collection’s notes, and made a connection between Graham’s costumes and later silhouettes crafted by his predecessor, Yves Saint Laurent.
“It is evident in numerous collections by Yves Saint Laurent, from the hooded diaphanous chiffon dresses he made for a collaboration with Claude Lalanne in 1969, to the indelible modernity of Spring Summer Haute Couture 1985, when a prolongation of fabric over the model’s head lent a casual connotation to several looks. Even the house founder’s last show, fall winter Haute Couture 2002, reprised the theme” the notes explained.
Vaccarello’s interpretation was, however, rooted firmly in the present. The opening look featured a tubular sheath dress evoking Graham’s, but finished in a light, slightly sheer silk jersey and worn with a matching floor-length coat in sumptuous leather. Variations on this silhouette were presented—some dresses were hooded, a nod to the brand’s archive ‘capuche’ styles, others were finished in a heavier, thicker material, others had halter neck detailing, or were draped artfully across the body. The colour palette was particularly striking—eggplant, camel, olive, and taupe—also taken from Monsieur Saint Laurent’s ‘70s heyday.
As for accessories, Vaccarello leaned into the retro-chic sensibility of the collection, adding sculptural jewellery made of wood and gold. Simple black evening dresses were elevated with oversized drop earrings, while chunky cuffs and bangles were styled up the arm over the top of sharply-tailored wool coats and leather jackets. It was yet another bold, confident, and assertive collection from Vaccarello, who is remarkably in tune with the Saint Laurent legacy, and uniquely gifted at bringing it charging into 2022 and beyond.