Saint Laurent Spring 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Since COVID upended everything, Anthony Vaccarello had chosen to present his Saint Laurent collections via

Since COVID upended everything, Anthony Vaccarello had chosen to present his Saint Laurent collections via the medium of film, using spectacular natural settings, from sand dunes to glaciers, as his backdrops. Not so tonight. We’re back to Paris, baby! Vaccarello’s powerful and uncompromising spring collection was once again shown within twinkling distance of the Eiffel Tower. (A roar came from the crowd when it lit up.) Still, he hasn’t entirely given up on the idea of drawing on the elements. For one thing, the show was held outside, on a cool darkening evening, and for another, there was the impossible to miss thundering waterfall which cascaded down the pyrotechnic light display at the finale.

That wasn’t the only force of nature Vaccarello had on his mind. Central to this collection was the incomparable Paloma Picasso, a Renaissance woman who, in her heyday, was as happy in a branché nightclub as she was in an artist’s studio. Or, for that matter, a designer’s atelier: Years ago, Pierre Bergé acknowledged Picasso’s pivotal role in shaking Monsieur Saint Laurent out of the lethargic and moribund world of haute couture, electrifying him into taking new risks. That role was somewhat lost to history until tonight, when Vaccarello celebrated her legacy in audacious and fabulous style. He brought the sketch of her trademark look—the dark hair, the scarlet lips, the masc/femme contrast, the clash of the opulent and the low down—firmly into today. “She projected a glamorous toughness,” Vaccarello said at a preview a few days before the show. “And it was a way for her to move through the world and hold her own.”

Much of this collection wrested on masculine-inflected tailoring, pace Picasso. Vaccarello’s jackets, with their broad shoulders which took months to perfect, were divine, and made even more so by the proportional juxtaposition of their three-quarter-length sleeves; the precision of the shape, said Vaccarello, was “to fix all those oversized jackets I am tired of seeing on Instagram; just to show what a well-cut jacket is.” Sometimes this tailoring was worn with lanky high-waisted jeans or tight pants cut from spandex, other times it morphed into jumpsuits, yet it was always accessorized with Pop Art bright leather gloves, a sunken galleon’s worth of ritzy jewelry, and the Tribute platform newly reborn in black patent leather. (BTW: Jeans and jewels are looking great again; ditto those platforms.)