If He Can Make It Here, He’ll Make It Anywhere

Posted June 7, 2018 7:51 p.m. EDT

By the western coast of Manhattan, a kind of Hudson River Riviera, the black-clad masses could be seen from blocks away, like ants. Their jeans were tight, their tops polka-dotted, their hair lank and stringy, and they were lining up for passage — not a yacht, but a ferry.

On board, concession stands that usually sell pretzels and hot dogs were pouring flutes of Champagne. To one side, Louis Garrel, the brooding, dark-eyed poster boy of cinematic hauteur, was vaping in thoughtful solitude. Charlotte Gainsbourg was on her way.

Paris had relocated to New Jersey for an evening, at the behest of Saint Laurent. Since 2016, Saint Laurent has been under the direction of Anthony Vaccarello, a quiet designer with a taste for a high slit. But Vaccarello has not made much of a production of its menswear, which he has shown, when he has shown it at all, wedged in among its women’s. For the first full men’s show, he made up for lost time, commandeering Liberty State Park in New Jersey, erecting an enormous silver scaffold, even going so far as to lay down a runway tiled in actual marble. New York has some significance for Saint Laurent — Yves threw a grand party here in the ‘70s for Opium — and the city’s decadents of that era, from Lou Reed to the Studio 54 crowd, inspired Vaccarello’s new collection. Besides, as he couldn’t help needling when asked why New York, “Everyone is leaving New York, non?”

Yes, there has been an exodus of designers from New York fashion weeks for Paris. Raf Simons, for the last few seasons the highlight of New York’s men’s fashion week, recently announced his intentions to decamp back to Paris for his shows.

Vaccarello has a well-documented taste for a dramatic scene. He has lately been showing his women’s wear collections against the plein-air backdrop of the Eiffel Tower. For the men’s show, he had the full magnificence of the New York skyline. With that, it is hard to compete. Maybe it was inevitable that the collection would feel small in comparison.

Vaccarello has glanced toward a slightly ‘70s silhouette, with subtly flared trousers and Cuban-heel boots, but just as much to the pin-thin rock star look that was Hedi Slimane’s contribution to the house’s history. That look has diffused widely, and had even before Slimane took it up; it’s easy enough to come by at any number of vintage shops and mid-tier brands.

Vaccarello added some silkiness and sparkle (as well as a number of women), but not much novelty. That may explain the all-out finale, boy after boy (emphasis boy) sent out shirtless, chests caked in silver glitter, in a pair of sequined jeans.

It was, at the end, more a moment than a fashion moment. But a party boat was waiting to cruise up toward Midtown to toast Vaccarello as he finished up interviews backstage, receiving compliments from his fabulous friends. “Loved it,” said Kate Moss, cutting in for a quick goodbye, shimmering noticeably about the mouth and cheeks.

“You’re full of glitter,” Vaccarello said.

“I know, I know,” Moss said. “The boys.”