MOTY Designer of the Year
Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent
Anthony Vaccarello and I are sitting in his stately office, housed in a 17th-century khotel particulier on the Left Bank of Paris. Vaccarello just showed off his spring 2023 womenswear collection for Saint Laurent in front of the Eiffel Tower, and today things are so quiet you can hear his French bulldog Nino snoring in the next room. Vaccarello’s office is minimally decorated, as if he’s still moving in, with a neat black desk, a few Pierre Jeanneret chairs and a small couch beneath some bookshelves. “So peaceful,” he said, sipping a small glass of water. “And very classy.”
Vaccarello, who took over from Saint Laurent as the brand’s sixth creative manager (including Mr. Saint Laurent) in 2016, has settled a lot. Under his direction of design, art and visuals, the brand’s revenue has exploded from $1.07 billion to nearly $2.85 billion. While YSL won’t share in sales, Vaccarello says menswear has been and is a steadily growing part of the business. He proudly notes that he achieved this monumental expansion without thinking much about the numbers or paying attention to what’s selling and what’s not. “I have a feeling that fashion has become too commercial,” he says. “I mean, trade is not a bad word. Selling is important, but if you can sell and have a real message or a real style, that’s bingo for me.”
One example: He avoids flashy collaborations with other brands and artists, and avoids the kind of big marketing stunts we expect from big luxury homes. “I still had that idea when I was doing fashion when I was in school; all brands are very different and very cool and fresh. Now, it’s all about the next partnership and that sort of thing. I hate it. I found it extremely boring,” he said.
Instead, what Vaccarello does is create fashion that resonates and experiences that really move. In July, in the middle of the Agafay desert, a dusty ride that lasted more than an hour outside Marrakech, he hosted his spring 2023 menswear show. Among the attendees were talented people you shouldn’t call “celebrity,” like Steve Lacy and Dominic Fike, as well as dozens of other beautiful creatures dressed in delicate bows; soft, wide-leg pants; and at least one dark cloak that made the wearer look like a Jedi master. As the sun went down, a troupe of slim models appeared in the ghostly mist. The first wore a tuxedo with strong shoulders, no shirt, and simple black sandals. Another wore a silky white shirt with a deep neckline and long black pants blowing in the wind. Yet another wore a large faux fur coat that grazed the top of glittering black high-heeled boots.