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Review: Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello made an unexpected move. He put color in the spotlight

Fall and winter 2020 Saint Laurent runway collection
Looks from the fall and winter 2020 Saint Laurent runway collection presented Tuesday during Paris Fashion Week.
(Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP/Getty Images)

For more seasons than we care to remember, we’ve left the Saint Laurent runway show at Paris Fashion Week thinking of a question from a scene in the 1984 mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap.”

“It’s like, how much more black could this be?” asks Nigel Tufnel, a character from the film.

And, for more seasons than we care to remember, the answer (as it was in the movie): “None more black.”

“Everybody always says I’m always doing black. I really wanted to show I can do colors too,” Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello said about the label’s fall and winter 2020 runway collection presented here Tuesday night before quickly adding, “[Just] once maybe. I’m not sure.”

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The finale of the fall and winter 2020 Saint Laurent runway show during Paris Fashion Week.

That’s what made this collection such a welcome departure. It wasn’t just pops of accent color — or even the occasional neon-hued focus-pulling piece — but also a deep bench of vibrant color. There were deep reds, royal purples, hot pinks and a range of blue hues served up in skintight latex pants, buttery leather skirts, diaphanous tops and strong-shouldered double-breasted jackets.

At Paris Fashion Week, utility belts, quilting and protection from the elements offer sure-bet chic for uncertain times.

In his postshow notes, Vaccarello said his aim for the collection was to reference a very 1990s-era Saint Laurent look, which he described as “well-behaved and overly bourgeois elegance.”

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To achieve this, fabrics were plucked from the label’s archives, including houndstooth checks and polka dots, both of which have already been spotted on the early runways of Paris Fashion Week.

Saint Laurent fall/winter 2020 runway
A look from the fall and winter 2020 Saint Laurent runway show presented Tuesday during Paris Fashion Week.
(Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

“What was interesting for me in this collection was to reproduce the original fabrics of the ’90s Saint Laurent,” Vaccarello told reporters backstage after the show, “all the tweed, all the silk and all the cashmere — and to twist all those very luxurious materials [in] with something cheap and latex.”

With the Harvey Weinstein rape conviction dominating the news cycle as Paris Fashion Week hit its low-necklined, high-heeled stride, we found ourselves coming to the conclusion that the fashion world probably could be just fine without any more painted-on latex leggings or nipple-baring tops on the catwalk.

Saint Laurent at fall/winter 2020 Paris Fashion Week runway
A look from the fall and winter 2020 Saint Laurent runway show presented Tuesday during Paris Fashion Week.
(Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images)

On that note, Vaccarello said backstage, “I think my woman is doing what she wants to do. She’s taking control and she’s powerful.”

And she’s embracing bold color and more color. On this runway, when it came to the color story — especially when it was applied liberally to the signature long-legged, strong-shouldered Saint Laurent silhouette — the more, the merrier.

Draped capes, a bouquet of florals and an emphasis on sustainability are among New York Fashion Week’s top takeaways. You’ll likely see versions of these trends in stores and online later this year.
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Although Vaccarello might ponder his decision to embrace color, he’ll probably be more sure — in one way or the other — once the fall and winter 2020 “back to the bourgeoisie” collection hits retail.

In the meantime, it was a breath of fresh Parisian air for us to see that range of bold color in the spotlight at a Saint Laurent runway show.


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