T SERIES: Friends Who Are Muses

For the creative director Anthony Vaccarello, two icons of French style inform how he approaches every collection.

Article by T Australia

From left: Catherine Deneuve, actress; Betty Catroux; and Anthony Vaccerello, creative director of Saint Laurent, all wear Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Photographed at the Saint Laurent design studio in Paris on Feb 11, 2021. Hair by Duffy at Streeters. Makeup by Karin Westerlund at Artlist. Deneuve’s hair by Jean-Claude Gallon. Deneuve’s makeup by Carole Lasnier.

Anthony Vaccarello:

“For me, Catherine and Betty are the epitome of Saint Laurent style. They are the last ones with testimonies of who the real Yves Saint Laurent was. Each season, they are the only people whose opinions mean anything to me.

Catherine was the first one to visit the atelier to see my work before my debut show for the summer 2017 collection. We clicked very quickly because she’s so curious and instinctual. With Betty, it took a bit more time — to be honest, it took me two seasons to seduce her. I was helped by Pierre Bergé, Yves Saint Laurent’s longtime business and romantic partner, who was really supportive of me from day one.

When you think of Yves Saint Laurent, you think of Catherine for a certain silhouette — she’s more feminine, seductive, soft. Betty, who embodies a kind of masculine, androgynous energy, is in many ways Catherine’s opposite. But both of them are really important for me: I really need those two tensions to design. Every season has some homage to them, but the collection that is the most Catherine and Betty was winter 2019, which had big shoulders and side-swept hair like Betty’s. There were so many small details that were inspired by them both.

I’m kind of bored with influencers and people trying to get attention with style that isn’t genuine. But with Betty and Catherine, their whole lives are inspiring, which is why they weren’t muses for just one season or one year. They don’t care if you like them or not. They do whatever they want.

We talked a lot on the phone over the last year. It was important for me to be there for them during the lockdown. But normally, we’d go out. Catherine loves going for Japanese food, and with Betty, it’s more about drinking than eating. [Laughs] One loves to eat, and one loves to drink. Saint Laurent never met his friends all together; he mostly spent time with people one on one. I like to be that way, too.”

Catherine Deneuve

“Anthony is very curious and open-minded, and is immersed and in sync with today’s culture. Yves, by contrast, was very different, always in his own world, rarely going out. We spent some really special times in his gorgeous house in Marrakesh. Life has changed a lot since then. The maison has existed through the eyes of different authors. I think that Anthony is a very sensitive designer. I immediately felt a connection with him after his first show, where this adorable, smiling young man came out from backstage to take his bow. We see each other quite frequently nowadays; our friendship has always been very organic and simple. It’s full of joy, and I love that.”

Betty Catroux

“Anthony and I met at the opening of the Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakesh, in the autumn of 2017. I immediately thought he had something special. I loved his attitude, his sensitivity. It was obvious to me from the start that he had a perfect understanding of what the Saint Laurent spirit was: a mix of mystery and seduction, and a certain way of seeing women, as well.

My relationship with Yves was of a different kind. We were soul mates. It wasn’t a transactional relationship but a fantasy that’s lasted my whole life. I’m lucky I never had to work; I always had that freedom of acting and thinking as I wanted to. Maybe the total freedom with which I approach life is, in a way, what fascinated Yves.”

Interviews have been edited and condensed. Production: Entrée Libre. On-set stylist: Paul Sinclaire at Creative Exchange Agency. Manicurist: Anatole Rainey at Premier Hair & Makeup. Digital tech: Henri Coutant. Light technician: Romain Dubus. Light assistants: Corentin Thevenet, Yves Mourtada. Hair assistant: Lukas Tralmer. Makeup assistant: Rafaela Siqueira. Post-production: Stéphane Virlogeux

A version of this article appears in print in our third edition, Page 112 of T Australia with the headline:
‘Friends who are Muses’
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