In 1978, Yves Saint Laurent threw a party to fete the launch of his Opium fragrance. It was held on a ship docked at New York City’s South Street Seaport and featured a giant bronze Buddha and thousands of orchids flown in from Hawaii. Forty years later, on a chilly June night in 2018, Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello hosted an impressive, ultra-modernized pseudo-version of that event across the Hudson in New Jersey’s Liberty State Park to present his Spring 2019 men’s collection. In lieu of tropical lushness were thousands of square feet of shiny black gridded marble trussed 14 feet in the air (thanks to the engineering powers of Bureau Betak). In place of Nan Kempner, Truman Capote, and Cher sat Lauryn Hill and her daughter Selah Marley, Kate Moss, and Travis Scott. And while the house has adapted a certain element of super-slick provocation, at least in terms of presentation (Vaccarello’s recent Paris shows have afforded million-dollar views of a sparkling Eiffel Tower), the clothes on view tonight were what tied the generations together; they comprised a smartly pitched blend, full of references to the ’70s, but revelry-ready as ever for the late 2010s.
Vaccarello said he wanted to represent “the idea of New York, the idea of the icons of New York in the ’70s.” Parts of that were Studio 54 in verve: the diamanté shirt placket on Look 1, gold trim on a peaked double-breasted blazer a little later. But more so, it was the dive-ier Max’s Kansas City that sprung to mind—full of the sort of dirty glamour that has proven itself an immortal style, in Spring’s case with distressed denim hoodies, patchworked boots, and show-stealing high-waisted, boot-cut trousers with just a slightly amplified flare at the kick. Vaccarello noted that these were new. His accessories were also noteworthy and novel, and included boat hats (fitting given the scene, with ferries and Boston Whalers scuttling by) and tossed-on and tangled necklaces. So still indulgent and wild, but with just the right amount of polish (needed in an age where nearly nothing, even in the gloaming after-hours, goes unnoticed).
And then there was the finale—and it wasn’t just the standard lap. Far from it, actually. Every model came out artfully bathed in disco-ball silver body paint. Body glitter is usually associated nowadays with music festivals, but in the moment tonight, no such thought occurred. This was a “different interpretation of evening couture, for men, without having volume,” said Vaccarello, and indeed, the treatment lent a shine of ultra-glam masculinity that felt very on brand and also somehow . . . right. As in: sexy and now and liberated, but literally painted across the tenets of a fortified, fabulous legacy.
To view on Vogue Runway, click here.