ANTHONY VACCARELLO on Sex and Trapezoids

by Mui-Hai Chu

A repost of our 2012 interview with the new head of Saint Laurent when he was but just a (very talented) babe.
It’s not often that big-name models like Anja Rubik, Abbey Lee Kershaw, and Joan Smalls beg to walk on a little-known designer’s runway, and it’s very unusual for Karlie Kloss to mysteriously sit out of all of New York and Milan only to pop up out of nowhere and triumphantly open a show. But then again, the young Belgian Anthony Vaccarello isn’t your typical burgeoning designer. Within a few seasons, he’s practically taken over Paris—his clothes can be spotted in the best international magazines as the fashion set coos over his sexually suggestive designs. Not to mention that some credit him for kickstarting the fervor that erupted after Kloss closed his Spring 2012 show in a revealing black number that had strategic and artful cutouts to showcase her lean, sinewy muscles.

Vaccarello received his start in Milan, designing furs at Fendi under Karl Lagerfeld. At the time, he was fresh off of his studies at La Cambre, his graduate collection garnering him first prize the Hyères fashion and photography festival in the French Riviera. With an urge to create his own label (and because he’d fallen in love), Vaccarello moved to Paris, and had his first small presentation in 2008 in the windows of Maria Luisa’s boutique. In Paris, he fell in love some more (with a group of strong, beautiful women who are now his muses), and in 2011, he took home the prestigious ANDAM award. Love truly is a powerful catalyst.

Vaccarello’s take on love is a modern one: clothes cut with clean, precise tailoring, in which femme fatale harlotry reigns alongside a strong, intelligent edge. We hounded Vaccarello until he finally found a moment after the shows and sales meetings to discuss sex, among other interests, from his studio in Paris.

How did you get into fashion? I’ve always drawn clothes without knowing I would become a fashion designer. It was more about drawing women that I saw on TV. I did a lot of collage. Then I discovered designers in the early ’90s; that probably made me want to become a designer—people like Alaïa, Helmut Lang, and Gianni Versace. I’m from Brussels in Belgium, so I studied in La Cambre, which was the best school in Belgium for what I wanted to do. I realized that people liked what I was doing, but I didn’t begin to trust myself until around 2006.

Who do you have in mind when you design your collections? A girl, a city, a walk, and attitude. I like real women [who are] alive; I’m not obsessed with dead women. I think a lot about modern women, such as my friend Lou Doillon—women who have a real life, a real job, a real family, a real sensitivity, and also, failures.

Who’s your favorite sex symbol in history? A cross between Jane Birkin and Beatrice Dalle. Very different but complementaire.

Your clothes embody a modern sexiness. What is your definition of sexy in these modern times? If a girl is sexy, the dress can reveal her, but it’s always about her attitude.

What’s the sexiest moment you’ve ever had in your life? I will not tell you.

Fair enough. What’s your favorite late night spot in Paris? My studio with a friend who comes by to drink a good bottle of red wine.

What is your aphrodisiac? The sunset.

What’s the sexiest film ever made? All the Fassbinder and Pasolini scenes are sexy to me.

While “sexy” is the most commonly used word people use to describe your clothes, it’s also just as much about the strength, power, and confidence of a woman. I think it’s because it’s not just sexy. Everyone can make a sexy dress. That’s not interesting. It’s sexy when a girl is sexy.

With the interesting cutouts and geometric shapes that emerge in your clothing, do you have a favorite geometric shape? Trapezoid, octagon, hexagon… I hate the trapezoid! I don’t know. It’s always the body that inspires the line for me. It depends on the body, the fabrics.

Every season it seems you grow leaps and bounds. How do you keep focused and not let the pressure get to you? I try not to read a lot of press, and I try to see my non-fashion friends. It’s becoming hard to see them, but of course, there is always someone to remind you of the pressure—thank you!

Sorry! I didn’t mean to remind you. Back to the female body. What is the most alluring part of a woman’s anatomy to you? I have a little weakness for the collarbone.

Photography: Adeline Mai at AdelineMai.com.

Styling: Philippe Uter at PhilippeUter.com.

Styling Assistant: Antoine Mont.

Model: Svetlana Mukhina for MarilynAgency.com, Paris.

Hair: Shuko Sumida at ShukoSumida.com.

Makeup: Mademoiselle Mu at MademoiselleMU.fr using M.A.C Cosmetics.

Special Thanks: Amanda Gutterman.