…where it’s all barren, Anthony Vaccarello showed a collection for Saint Laurent alluringly fertile of chic
It has been a looong fashion season. Or, an unusually extended one. In the middle of December, when stores are moving holiday collections, and some are receiving the initial drop from the spring/summer 2021 season (Kolor, for example has announced, barely into the start of winter, that their spring/summer 2021 will launch in their Tokyo store on the 19th), Saint Laurent is showing the latter only now. As far as we can remember, there has never been a spring/summer RTW show in December, at least not by a French house (others are putting out the pre-fall collections). And certainly not one shown in a desert, topping Dior’s make-believe outer space, even Dakar Fashion Week, staged last weekend in a baobab forest. Fashion has always taken us places, but not quite yet to anywhere close to the desolation of dunes.
The Saint Laurent show takes place atop a sand ridge in the Sahara (presumably), perhaps vaguely alluding to Yves Saint Laurent’s own exotic North African roots (he was born in Algeria). However, the house isn’t the first to show in a desert—in 2007, Pierre Cardin showed on the desert of Whistling Sand Mountain in Gansu Province, China. Still, it’s intriguing to see how a runway show could be set up on what appears to be pristine sands, taking into account that they are loose, and likely to shift. Even the YSL logo could be, somehow, worked into the vast slipface of a dune, creating a considerably austere, but no less striking branding of the house. When the models finally appear, emerging from a peak, like Bedouins (perhaps Frank Herbet’s Fremen, too?) coming home, but well socially distanced, we realise this is no mirage: Saint Laurent is bringing its clubby clothes to the desert.
Only thing is, the collection does not seem to be designed with going to the club in mind, or for those occasions when getting dressed-up means a certain dalliance with exaggeration, such as the massiveness of shoulders or the bareness of skin. The models, not quite sure-footed, walking in high heels on the soft sand, are not dressed for a wild night, although much of what is shown may well look good in candle, or strobe light. Rather, what we saw was a relaxed sleekness that veered dangerously close to wearable. Sure, we weren’t looking out for a parade of djellabahs or thawbs, but we weren’t expecting such controlled elegance, not in the sea of sand. These are clothes that have an air of glamour about them, evocative of the ’60s and, partially, ’70s, with a lineage that seems traceable to Christine Keeler’s heyday wardrobe.
Since the setting is a desert, it may also suggest that these are clothes to take on a holiday. But they are nothing like what the women of the Sex and the City 2 film, The Sands of Time, wore: high-camp and a little too fabulous for a desert (or worse, the Real Housewives of New York: Last Call, Morocco!). Anthony Vaccarello has largely (and finally?) stepped away from the shadow of his predecessor Hedi Slimane. The aesthetic is still retro, but it projects an inviting coolness that many might not mind revisiting. The suits are as lean, but a tad loosened-up; the le smoking is edgier, the dresses are not too sheer; the marabou (of the negligee-dresses) are fluffier; the shirts are not Tom Ford-oversexed, the flounces are well-behaved, the two extremes of biker shorts and almost-panties are options for those who likes extremes, and the pussy bows… well, they remain. And there are, interestingly, prints—florals to be exact. But they brought to our mind Richard Quinn, when we were, in fact, in a Jacqueline Susann state of mind.
Photos: Saint Laurent