Noted immortal icon, current Internet boyfriend, and human vessel for good vibes Keanu Reeves went to a fashion show last night. That wouldn’t be lede-level news for most celebrities, but Reeves is the kind of beloved low-key A-lister that warrants getting excited over any spotting in the wild. The occasion for his outing into the fashion world’s inner circle happened to be Saint Laurent’s Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show, which took place on a sliver of beachfront under a towering cliffside in Malibu (the audience perched on one side, the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean on the other). The John Wick star is currently the face of the storied French brand and did right by his moody black-and-white David Sims-lensed ads by arriving in a topcoat (it was nighttime), tee, and slim black jeans, sand be damned. He wasn’t the only one who got the memo; just about every attendee—Malibu’s own Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, Luka Sabbat, Joe Keery—turned up in their slickest Saint Laurent-leaning black. Against the back drop of mother nature, the guests, the black clapboard runway, and the towering mirror wall behind it made the whole scene feel like an alien invasion on one of the toniest stretches of land in America (or just like Art Basel).
The Instagram-friendly destination and even off-calendar timing of the show were in line with creative director Anthony Vaccarello’s previous men’s runway endeavors. (Last year he brought a few hundred friends to New Jersey’s Liberty State Park to watch his S/S ’19 show in the presence of the Statue of Liberty.) Fashion shows aren’t just the debut of new designs; they’re a massive marketing tool intended to cut through the chatter on Instagram, YouTube, and any other platform that can announce a BIG THING is happening—and attract potential customers. The fact that YSL’s “big thing” took place in Malibu felt aligned with the Saint Laurent brand the way few shows and their far-off venues do. After all, it’s where the ultra-rich go to hang out at their beachfront properties and tortured artists go to dry out—and no brand caters to the billionaire bohemian better than Saint Laurent.
Vaccarello used this show to double down on that vibe. His show notes made mention Marrakech and Mick Jagger and the two reference points gave way to a lineup of luxe drape-y layers and razor sharp tailoring. There were sheer tanks, caftans and robes galore, sequin T-shirts and safari jackets, tassels on everything, one truly excellent white double-breasted suit, plus fancy bomber jackets that pushed the silhouette into new territory (see: kimono-like sleeves). These are pieces that pack a punch on the runway but are even more impressive up close, which is crucial when you consider some of the price tags that will accompany them. Because we’re talking about a Saint Laurent show, even the slouchiest pieces—like the show ending wide-leg flow-y trousers) come reigned in and the silhouette remained one that favors a low BMI. So there were skinny jeans, once again in signature black, but also in caramel suede and plush velvets. S.L. stans can take pleasure in knowing the label’s almighty Chelsea boots is still in top form, this time rendered in a patent tortoiseshell that feels genuinely fresh.
Vaccarello’s tenure at YSL, like any designer who takes over a big, successful house, has had to deal with constant comparisons of his work to what came before. With this collection, though, the creative director further distanced himself from his predecessor’s work and dove further into the artisanal vision that’s punctuated recent collections. There’s a freer spirit to the Saint Laurent man these days that, intentional or not, feels appropriate for this moment of extreme mindfulness (a tagline for this collection could be: Gurus Welcome). Maybe it was the cresting waves crashing next to the runway, or the extremely on-brand brushstroke charcoal gray sky, or possibly the “Hotel California” riff at one point on the soundtrack, but every element of the show felt extremely zen, and these things rarely are. We’d bet good money Keanu felt the same way.