Arriving at the Bourse de Commerce-Pinault Collection for the Saint Laurent Winter 2023 men’s show, its 100 or so guests were met with the now customary fashion week hordes whose screams pierce the night sky. In a world where stars rocket and fizzle out with the start and stop of every new hit TV series, one can be forgiven for asking, “Who is that?” At YSL, however, the brand’s faithfuls are no fair-weather friends. Giant of cinema, director Pedro Almodóvar was spotted in a YSL sweatshirt; Nineties supermodel Shalom Harlow looked like she just walked the runway in the new season total look; while the presence of Betty Catroux, muse of Saint Laurent himself, served as a platinum reminder that true loyalty never dies. Guests took their seats on the black leather 1970s Non Stop couch by De Sede formed to make a full circle around the room. All eyes on the baby grand Yamaha piano, placed off-center of the museum’s rotunda.
Musician Paul Prier, who recently launched his debut single, took a seat at the bench and began to play. The first look emerged—a white shirt with exaggerated pussy bow collar, black trousers, and patent leather shoes. Its sober poeticism amplified by the crescendo scales of the baby grand. Next, black leather trousers, loose while tailored and later, drawstring pants, for formal comfort. Floor-skimming coats brought cinematic drama in velvet and leather, the fabric flowing from rod-straight shoulders. Sweaters wrapped the body in cashmere and mohair, and even climbed up the neck and head with high turtlenecks and cagoules, first previewed at Saint Laurent women.
Designer Anthony Vaccarello mastered every aspect of this show with such finesse that even the painting towering 40 meters above, representing commerce from four corners of the world, appeared beguiled by the scene below. Prier played his last note, and offered his seat to Charlotte Gainsbourg. The Cesar and Palme d’Or winning actress and daughter of Jane Birkin was dressed in a velvet three-piece suit, walking with a swagger that incarnated both the essence of Saint Laurent and the rebellious nonchalance of her late father, Serge Gainsbourg.
As she began to play, the finale ensued, with the men appearing like swans in a parade of timeless masculinity. Lest we forget the pussy bow shirt was once the epitome of 18th-century upper class, today, it’s associated with women, as are other details like the narrow waists, wide cuffs, heeled dress shoes, and billowing scarves. For men to reappropriate such codes in a manner that is not clownish resonated as the most contemporary, gentlemanly gesture. An exciting union; one that hopefully, is made to last.