Saint Laurent Fall-Winter 2024: The Most Important Suits of the Year

This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of the global fashion week circuit. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

In a season full of suits, Saint Laurent creative director Anthony Vaccarello got the last word.

Over the past two months, menswear’s leading designers have proposed countless spins on the suit. Tailoring has made for some of the season’s standout moments, dressing Pharrell’s Wild West dandy at Louis Vuitton, and Prada’s yearning corporate warriors. There was no limit to shape, size, or sensibility. Come this winter, there will be suits in stores inspired by the 1920s (Ferragamo), the 1990s (Gucci), and the future (Rick Owens), all of which feel perfectly wearable today. After years of safe and commercial suits on runways, designers are now expressing their most radical and compelling ideas through tailoring.

All images courtesy of Saint Laurent

And it was Vaccarello who delivered what might be the defining statement for this moment in men’s style. The YSL designer is responsible for some of the most incredible menswear spectacles in recent years, and on Tuesday night he raised his own extremely high bar, shutting down Paris Fashion Week with a sublime parade of outstanding tailoring. Held in the Pinault Collection art museum under the soaring dome of the former Bourse de Commerce, it was, fittingly, the final major men’s show of the Fall-Winter 2024 season.

Backstage, Vaccarello explained that the timing was coincidental. Kering boss François-Henri Pinault lent him the space, and this was the date it was available in between exhibitions. But it was a remarkable coda that began as a clear homage to the style of Yves Saint Laurent himself. In a long gray flannel double-breasted suit, with a starched white shirt and dark tie, the bespectacled lead model was a spitting image of the boy genius of French fashion as he looked in the 1970s, and as he strolled around the rotunda, a ripple of recognition from the 100-some guests followed him. (YSL men’s shows are both intimate and epic in scale.)

Made in heavy flannels, with nipped waists and full trousers, the suits looked like they could have been pulled out of the YSL archive hours before. But this Yves Saint Laurent cosplay didn’t look at all dated. Mr. Saint Laurent’s personal style, which turned the double-breasted blazer and high-collar shirt into emblems of creative genius, was timeless. And today, the big, pleated, thinly-cuffed trousers he wore feel fresh, especially from a house like Saint Laurent that is synonymous with razor-sharp skinny cuts. Backstage, describing his intent this season, Vaccarello used the phrase “classicism to the maximum.”

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