Anthony Vaccarello’s Spring 2020 menswear collection for Saint Laurent dressed men the way Yves Saint Laurent dressed women in his most notoriously spectacular collections from the 70’s. The particular recipe for inspiration comes partly from having a private getaway location (Marrakesh for Yves, L. A. for Vaccarello) to ruminate on a particularly inspiring mood, and partly from hanging out with cool friends with trendsetting iconic style. The Vin Diagram overlap of Yves and Anthony’s sources of inspiration came down to one very specific person- Mick Jagger. And from the very first look we saw Saint Laurent past, present, and future wrapped into one unexpected package: a gold studded black silk blouse unbuttoned to the waist, a 70’s inspired skinny neck scarf, layers of clinking metal boho-meets-rockstar bangles, and – here’s the kicker – smoky sheer lace harem pants billowing out from under a thick leather belt.
Harem pants are pretty near last on the list of things you think of when you think of rock star fashion. You might find yourself wondering how could Vaccarello do this to Saint Laurent? When you add it up, it really ends up making a certain amount of sense. Anthony Vaccarello got to pour over the archives of Jagger’s vintage Saint Laurent collection since the designer will be outfitting his upcoming tour this next year. This included old photos of Jagger and Yves Saint Laurent hanging out in Marrakesh. Thus was born the crazy mashup of Mick Jagger’s glittering, explosive, razor sharp rock star edge with the otherworldy bohemian take of Marrakesh as some kind of exclusive, romantic, zen getaway in which to party with your friends and gather inspiration whilst laying on carpets in flowing white robes. And then there are actually some pretty great photos of Mick Jagger wearing wide leg harem pants on stage in 1975, complete with a tiny shrunken vest very much like one that went down the runway for this very collection.
In one fell swoop the new, voluminous harem pants reference a hugely influential time of Yves’ career inspired by a place that was very personally important to him for his entire life; they are pulled right from the wardrobe of Mick Jagger who is maybe the biggest rock star of all time and about to wear Saint Laurent all over his new tour; and last but probably not least- they are completely the opposite of everything Hedi Slimane did at Saint Laurent. So in a way, how could he not?
No matter how gloriously profane they might feel right now in all their didn’t-see-that-coming glory, harem pants are going to be a very hard sell for much of the Saint Laurent fan base. The thing is, there is so much more to the Spring 2020 collection that even the crankiests of die hard old Hedi fans probably won’t be too sad. For one, there were still plenty of gorgeous rail thin pants in seductive velvets and sequin studded tweed. Those sexy unbuttoned shirts may be more billowy than they used to, but all the better for ripples of sequins and tiny golden studs to catch the light. Officer jackets were transformed into braided bombers and dress shirts, doubling up on the references to Saint Laurent and British rock signatures, and blazers were sharp and fitted as ever. Even the Moroccan inspired embroidery and loose tunic tops felt convincingly rockstar worthy in moody black satin and glittering metal disc fringed edges.
Some of the more boundary pushing pieces included a one shoulder sequined top cut low enough to reveal an entire half of the chest, a sheer collarless shirt with crystals detailing a circular Moroccan mosaic inspired pattern, and some flowing caftanlike robes and cardigans that would have fit right in at an Anne Demeulemeester show. After all, both Mick Jagger and Demeulemeester muse Robert Mapplethorpe’s gender bending aesthetics were known for pushing artistic boundaries while both seducing and provoking.
The new silhouettes and new mood at Saint Laurent may be a risky move to make for Vaccarello, but it signals his growing confidence and possibly further exploration of his own voice, which we have to admit, we may not have seen a whole lot of up until this point.