Come for the show, stay for the clothes. It’s the best way to think of Anthony Vaccarello’s Spring 2023 menswear tour de force. He wisely knew when to turn things up dramatically – and when to lower them so that what he was showing, his collection of best men to date, felt intimate, real and strong. Of course, the frame helped. Vaccarello had decamped to the Agafay desert, about an hour from Marrakech. It is a city that has real meaning for Yves Saint Laurent the man (he had two houses here, the most famous Villa Oasis, nestled next to the Majorelle garden) and the brand (Marrakech is the location of the Yves Saint Lawrence). And then consider the staging of the show: an epic and haunting circular light show installation designed by artist and stage designer Es Devlin, which rose from a mirage pond and was erected atop lunar terrain.
Still, a movie set doesn’t mean much if the clothes can’t match it. And here is Vaccarello’s masterstroke: Presenting a collection that he said, just before the show, was “for the first time, my most personal.” It is perhaps less, say costumed, than it might have been in the past. Vaccarello looked back 20 years to when he was a student in Brussels at La Cambre art school, a time when the taut lines of Belgian noir were ubiquitous in fashion. It gave a defined tailored silhouette, of course, but with a softness and a wrinkled feeling of being carried by love. Vaccarello took his own sartorial impulses from his early years – “This is how I dressed in 2000. It was a look I loved and wanted to recreate that spirit; I missed it” – and married them beautifully to classic YSL codes.
Trench coats arrived with pointed shoulders but with an alluring fluidity in their silhouette, cut with barely perceptible flutter, in black wool or glove-soft leather. Lanky pants started high at the waist then fell in an easier, wider stride, some with a satin tuxedo stripe down the leg, or styled like jeans but cut in the most luxurious of velvets, all two often paired with delicate filmy tops that cling to the torso. (Surely the only time we could say “fragile masculinity” and mean it in a good way.)