Anthony Vaccarello is not one to shy away from the provocative. In his seven years as creative director of Saint Laurent, the Italian designer has left his mark on the French heritage brand though a lot of skin-baring, sexed-up looks, mixed with Yves Saint Laurent’s original use of color and shape.
For the brand’s summer ’23 collection, however, Vaccarello kept things more covered up — in a way. Instead of outright skin-baring looks, the creative director turned to sheer knits to showcase a slinky look for next year.
Vaccarello referenced dancer and choreographer Martha Graham and a 1930 routine in which she was enveloped in a sheath from head to toe. He also looked to a 1969 collaboration between Saint Laurent and Claude Lalanne, specifically a hooded, diaphanous chiffon dress. Finally, the designer looked to YSL’s hooded “capuche” pieces from the mid-’80s and especially the spring summer haute couture 1985 YSL collection where fabrics covered models’ heads. (The founder’s last show in 2002 also reprised this idea.)
The result was a summer ’23 look that was elongated, and sheer but covered, with masculine outerwear punctuating floor length dresses in silk jersey knits or tank dresses and pajama-inspired looks. Hemlines were so long that footwear was rarely apparent, with the exception of some toe-ring sandals and high-vamp pumps, done in neutrals or matched with the eggplant or caramel hues of the looks.
That Saint Laurent would reprise the “capuche” at a time when the hijab is at the center of deadly protests in Iran and around the world following the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of Iranian police could be seen as insensitive. It could also, however, represent the times we are living in, as women’s bodies are once again the battleground for shifting generations and cultures. Vaccarello’s interpretation of showing the body — covered up but still visible and unapologetic — surely is a nod to that.