The stark contrast between Karlie Kloss opening Anthony Vaccarello's A/W 12-3 show in oodles of navy satin, a buttoned up shirt and trousers that mean business with metal fastenings glinting at you in the chiarascuro-creating lighting and Kloss closing his S/S 12 show in a gaping dress that exposed every inch of her pretty-much-perfect thigh cannot be over emphasised. That dress made an indelible impact, on the world, on a ton of editorials including an equally brazen Gwyneth Paltrow on the March 2012 issue of Harper's Bazaar US and on Kloss herself. Backstage after the A/W 12-3 show, she exclaimed "I want to be buried in that dress!" These are the sort of proud motherhen moments that make me blub because as some of you might know, I've been friends with Vaccarello for a good number of years now, since his debut at Hyères festival way back when, and along the way, tracking the ups and ups of his career since he launched his label.
Vaccarello probably wanted to wipe the slate clean after such a poker hot image left in the wake of his S/S 12 collection and so for A/W 12-3, the girl covers up. Or at least she does for a while before realising the party's going on again and then strips down to reveal the cut-away dresses that are controlled with Vaccarello's invisible puppet strings of laborious internal construction. Shifting from black to navy in Vaccarello's world is radical. Deploying the richest of navy satins in his vaguely military (but only just - no dodgy Sgt Pepper conotations here) tailoring, felt like Vaccarello was taking his own version of a risk. Concealed flesh. Zippered. Buttoned. Strapped in. When a shoulder is revealed in a demi jacket construction that cleverly nods to the way girls drape a boyfriend jacket over one shoulder, it's as precise as ever. These are the sort of illusions which makes his crafty game of conceal-and-revealing the body such a fun pursuit to play with, even for covered-up addicts such as myself.
Once the hem lines start going up on skirts and mini dresses, it's the exterior detailing we're drawn into, as Vaccarello was inspired by vintage lingerie - garter belts, fanlacers, corsetry - all contributing to rubber-coated accent lines, lace-up detailing and metal toggles and buckles. Every fastening is as integral to each ensemble as the construction itself and it's only upon closer inspection that the lingerie-derived details really spring into action. It's also here that Vaccarello falls back to his signature trait of magically making one solid colour appear as though it was composed of a variety of shades, using different textures, fabrications and depths. One note sexy dresses are in fact complex symphonies made up of components so complex in their construction that whenever I visit Vaccarello's studio, his patterns and on-dummy toiling looks like the most challenging of geometry lessons.
Vaccarello's isn't slavish to his precision though as the appearance of disco-friendly lame in gold and Little Mermaid-esque iridescent electric green jolts through the final passage of the collection. Call it whimsy. A flight of fancy even. Still, it's never going to stray too far from the core message of what Vaccarello has to offer. Notice how this post is devoid of all "I'm biased because we're friends" sentiment. He's now been elevated to a level that I would not have comprehended three years ago and I'm just happy to be that cheerleader waving on from the back of a very long and illustrious queue.