Berlin, a city of fashion? Not really. The German capital shines rather by its history which has shaped its architecture but also by its plethoric cultural offer. The local fashion week has been trying for years to find a place on the international scene – without much success. And the world’s luxury brands have never thought of Berlin to organize their fashion show. Anyway until Monday, June 12, where Saint Laurent presented its spring-summer 2024 men’s collection at the Neue Nationalgalerie.
In the current context where luxury is multiplying events all over the world, the choice of a city off the fashion radar seems shrewd: this spring, a few weeks apart, competitors Vuitton and Gucci each organized fashion shows in Seoul, Vuitton (again) and Dior have taken over Lake Como, Cartier and Pucci have gone to Florence. Since the Covid-19 pandemic subsided in 2021, the brands boosted by their excellent results have not lost an opportunity to get people talking about them, convinced that in the ambient hubbub, we must constantly show something new to maintain the public interest.
Although not new, the place chosen by Anthony Vaccarello, artistic director of Saint Laurent, for his Berlin show has the advantage of never having hosted a parade, while being highly photogenic. The Neue Nationalgalerie, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, is the only building that the German architect, exiled to the United States in 1938, built in his native country after the war. Started in 1963, this island of glass and steel a stone’s throw from Potsdamer Platz was completed in 1968.
The museum rooms are located in the basement clad in granite. The upper gallery is an architectural and technical feat: no load-bearing wall, only eight pylons support a huge coffered roof protecting recessed glass walls. The structure, reduced to the essential, gives the impression of extreme lightness. The large bay windows on the ground floor, which Saint Laurent has refurbished by adding anthracite curtains to the walls and lining the floor with the same gray marble as that of the columns, let in the last rays of the setting sun: an ideal setting for unveil an evening wardrobe.
“We no longer ask ourselves the question of gender”
In front of the museum, clusters of teenagers and onlookers crane their feet to see the celebrities getting out of their black sedans: among the approximately two hundred guests of the parade include K-pop stars Jeonghan and Mark Tuan, as well as many young actors (Vassili Schneider, Manu Rios, Fionn O’Shea, Georgie Farmer, etc.), Saint Laurent having started producing films at the start of the year.
This season, Anthony Vaccarello reiterates his singular clothing proposal, that of an absolutely chic wardrobe, all in evening clothes for dandies disconnected from material contingencies: no bag, no sneakers, only outfits to shine. Only elegance counts. His models walk around in black suits, sometimes in tuxedos with satin collars, in wide-shouldered jackets and fitted pants, patent leather ankle boots with heels. Some wear high-cut tops under their striped Lurex blazers, so low-cut that you can almost see their navel; others wear a blouse in transparent silk muslin, draped around their frail bust. An asymmetrical top reveals a shoulder, the emerging curve of the pecs. A purple or ocher pussy-bow that floats around their necks is sometimes so long that it skims the ground, like a train.
This cinematographic look is very reminiscent of the women’s collection presented in Paris in February, and for good reason: Anthony Vaccarello drew directly from it. “Yves Saint Laurent made women powerful by making them wear masculine clothes (like the pantsuit in the 1960s). I wanted to give men the opportunity to wear pieces that we associate more with women’s wardrobes and that they feel good in. By dint of mixing wardrobes, we no longer ask ourselves the question of gender »says the designer.
The Saint Laurent men undeniably have panache in their grain de poudre leopard raincoat, their boat-neck sweater that reveals the shoulders, their poplin shirt just crossed on the chest, not even buttoned. On the men’s fashion market, few competitors have chosen this niche, which is a priori not very commercial because it is devoid of practical clothing, without logos or accessories. But Anthony Vaccarello ensures that Saint Laurent customers are receptive to this wardrobe close to haute couture. “It’s as if men were waiting for this radicality. And the customers also come to dig into it. »
The Belgian designer, who quotes the films Quarrelby Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1982), and The Damnedby Luchino Visconti (1969), as sources of inspiration for this collection, was not always comfortable with the male wardrobe: dissatisfied for a long time, he preferred to parade abroad so as not to compare himself to Parisian competition. “I haven’t tried to please everyone for three seasons. I’m having fun with the men’s wardrobe, and I feel like it’s now up to the women’s offering. » This is indeed the case. Over time, Anthony Vaccarello managed to position Saint Laurent as the mark of true Parisian chic. It remains to be seen whether in the perpetual race for novelty, this timeless elegance can last.