Anthony Vaccarello's most recent Saint Laurent men's show in Berlin painted an aesthetic tableau of exceptional tailoring, bare shoulders framed by delicate silk or chiffon sleeveless shirts, and a broad-shouldered silhouette. In the age of social media, hints of the show's direction were gleaned from Vaccarello's Instagram, even before the audience's planes had landed. A film clip from the 1950 French short film, Un Chant d’Amour, and the collection's title, "Each Man Kills the Things He Loves", gave followers a breadcrumb trail leading to the show's inspirations.
Enthusiasts of the writer Jean Genet (a hand is raised here) would recognize the collection's title as an Oscar Wilde line, made famous in a movie adaptation of Genet’s novel, Querelle de Brest. The connection is drawn from Moreau, a French nouvelle vague icon, and Fassbinder, a celebrated Berlin director known for his narratives of sexual dissonance and power dynamics, as quintessentially Parisian as Yves Saint Laurent himself.
However, Vaccarello's Berlin showcase was more than a string of references. Though Berlin features in his personal history and this assured display was unmistakably influenced by the city, it wasn’t the sole focus. Much like the Paris show in January and Marrakech in the summer of 2022, Berlin is a new node in Vaccarello's design journey.
There were clever nods to each city, but Vaccarello was primarily in his meticulous mode, accentuated by the precision of his chosen location, the Mies van der Rohe-designed Neue Nationalgalerie. The designer aimed for attendees to leave with a clear silhouette in their minds, adopting a design approach that's focused, crisp, and dedicated to cutting out the unnecessary. The 50 looks explored the delicate balance between tailored, sharp suiting and flowing, sensual soft dressing – a signature Saint Laurent trait.
These quintessential elements of French fashion may originate from women's wear, but Vaccarello made them seamlessly translate to men's. As he put it, the collection was built around women's shapes now being worn by men, beginning where his women's fall collection ended. The aim was to "start somewhere very classic, and then play with the codes of masculinity." This interplay was evident in satin tanks under bold jackets, high and narrow waisted pants, one-shouldered tops with bow-tie necklines, and sweatshirting transformed into couture evening wear.
The spectacular tuxedos that bookended the show were a sight to behold. With their broad shoulders, narrow trousers, and high-collared shirts, they exuded a distinctly chic androgyny, inadvertently recalling a Lydia Tar vibe, another narrative set and filmed in Berlin.