Saint Laurent's Anthony Vaccarello on 'Cowboy meets Marrakech'

Esquire talks to the designer about his varied inspirations and that all-important VIP list.

BY Donghui Ko | Nov 12, 2018 | Fashion

There are lots of yeehah moments in Saint Laurent’s spring/summer 2019 men’s collection, but cowboys are not the only reason Anthony Vaccarello chose an American city as the venue for his first standalone show as the brand’s creative director.

ESQUIRE: Why did you choose New York, and specifically Liberty State Park, as the venue for your first standalone men’s show for Saint Laurent?

ANTHONY VACCARELLO: I love New York’s energy. It’s a cliché but it’s true; here, everything is possible. New York means freedom. I wanted to properly launch menswear with a big event and I wanted to do it in that dynamic and positive context. New York is also linked to the history of Saint Laurent. In 1978, Mr Saint Laurent came here to launch his Opium perfume with an iconic decadent party. So coming back here for my launch makes even more sense. I searched for the best location and Liberty State Park offered the perfect scenic view of Manhattan.

ESQ: Just like the show in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the night skyline was a great setting. Do you have any particular reason to use night scenes? Why is the night view special to you? Night scenes are often seen in Saint Laurent’s films and images.

AV: I like the atmosphere; it is similar to the ‘obscure’ side of a personality, of our life, (and) at night there’s more freedom to show it.

ESQ: The runway was very dramatic and magnificent. What inspired you to have such themed sets? What kind of atmosphere did you want to create with the background music?

AV: New York is a city brimming with energy and possibilities. The set, the music, the night, were the perfect backdrop to frame this spirit, which is also the spirit of this menswear collection.

ESQ: How did you come up with the theme ‘Cowboy meets Marrakech’?

AV: I don’t work with a theme but with a mood. It’s a mix of several of them. I don’t like being literal. That’s why I prefer the collection to talk on my behalf. Everyone has to be able to appreciate it, or not, without a word.

ESQ: The looks, in general, got much slimmer and had a retro impression. I could also see references to the 1970s David Bowie and 1990's Kurt Cobain at the same time. Could you explain the main points of the collection?

AV: It’s more subtle than that. It was about the 1970s and how Saint Laurent was back then. That’s how
people dressed back in the day. I never did oversized even when I had my own brand. I don’t dress like that either. I wanted to continue to propose a silhouette that’s unexpected.

ESQ: Could you tell me about the films, photos or music that inspired you while you were planning this show?

AV: It’s a mix of all the things that have inspired me for the collection: Macadam Cowboy [the title
that Midnight Cowboy was released as in Belgium], The Warriors, Robert Mapplethorpe’s photography, the free spirit of the 1970s, but also [Rainer Werner] Fassbinder and Abel Ferrara. As I said, nothing is taken from one thing in particular.

ESQ: There was no fine line between the male and female models, and it felt like the looks were for both men and women. What are your thoughts about androgynous looks?

AV: I work on men’s and women’s collections the same way, the same day at the same time. It’s hard for me to say pink is for woman, blue for man. To me, the ultimate preference for Saint Laurent menswear is Yves himself, a very sensitive.