Maybe this is crazy love, the love of two madmen." That quote, which Yves Saint Laurent cofounder Pierre Bergé wrote to the eponymous designer, was printed on a card placed on every seat at Saint Laurent’s summer 2018 show. It might have been easy to miss in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower (which loomed over the runway at the Fontaine du Trocadéro) but for its resonance. Bergé had died earlier in the month, and one couldn’t help feeling as though designer Anthony Vaccarello’s collection (his third since taking the helm as creative director in 2016) paid tribute to the original duo’s legacy.
As Paris’ famed landmark began its hourly twinkle, models emerged through a smoke-machine fog. The show’s first half focused on casual-yet-sexy looks—silky blouses, louche jackets, slim suiting—but the drama arrived in act two: eveningwear. Bubble-skirted minidresses (a classic couture shape that Vaccarello modernized with leg-framing cutouts at the hem) textured with sequins, tulle, and feathers made their way down the catwalk. Kaia Gerber, in her Paris Fashion Week debut, rocked one in black.
"You need more than just 'clothes,'" says the designer, who updated house signatures like ostrich feathers and wide lapels in unexpected ways (plumes enveloped knee-high boots, while jacket collars were spangled). “Today, you can buy clothes everywhere, anytime. Everything is just a click away.”
Seeking a fresh start (and, no doubt, a departure from the grungy, L.A.-music-scene vibe of his predecessor, Hedi Slimane), the 37-year-old Brussels native—who launched a namesake label in 2009 and spent a year as creative director of Versus Versace before taking the reins at Saint Laurent—controversially wiped the label’s Instagram account clean when he arrived.
“Creating a dream, an attraction, a strong vision, something that gives a unique feeling to what you buy, is more important than ever,” he says. His way of doing it? Edgy campaign videos (featuring free-spirited road trips, dance-filled nights, and same-sex romances, and starring new muses like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Travis Scott), provocative art collaborations, and nocturnal runway presentations—a reminder that Saint Laurent is synonymous with that perennially sought-after Parisian je ne sais quoi.
“Our woman is full of a subtle tension,” says Vaccarello. “She is a dark angel with a sensual allure, draped in black-sequined dresses that shine like asphalt after the rain.” We’re in crazy love.