The pieces in Saint Laurent’s latest collection seem to mimic the leanness of Paris’s famous tower, but, perhaps, far sexier
How many variations of a lean, body-skimming silk-jersey dress can one squeeze into a collection without the garment looking repetitive? We counted about 38 of them out of the 49 looks that Anthony Vaccarello showed for Saint Laurent’s spring/summer 2023. And can hoodies be anything other than what they have been? We counted them, too, and there are 24, worn over the head in more ways than one. Some of the looks remind us of what Grace Jones wore as May Day in the one of the James Bond franchises, 1985’s A View to a Kill (in which Roger Moore was licensed to kill for the last time), interestingly partially shot in Paris. Her costumes were designed by the late Azzedine Alaïa. One particular burgundy hooded dress in the Saint Laurent collection is truly evocative of a purple one Ms Jones wore, which stood out like the Eiffel Tower against James Bond’s real love target, Tanya Roberts as Stacey Sutton, in hyper-feminine clothes that Virginie Viard would love. Perhaps, most unusual of all was the hood; it had never appeared on a Bond girl until then.
It is, however, unlikely that Mr Vaccarello was inspired by a fictional M16 secret agent’s nemesis-turn-one-night-stand, even if double-O-seven’s romantic interests are mostly clad in the styles of the day. The hoodie-dresses have a different lineage, one that can be traced to Yves Saint Laurent himself, when he introduced the capuche (literally hood in French) dresses in 1969, four years after the more famous and remembered Mondrian dresses were shown. Mr Vaccarello has, naturally, taken the ’60s out of the capuche and given it his own ’80s touch with what could be a ’30s slenderness and swish, and present-day sinew. Compellingly, the hoods are fashioned in different forms, many emerging from the bust, some criss-crossing the bodice, some draping one shoulder and extending to become a sleeve. These are, as redundant as the pointing out might be, not your garden-variety street-style hoods.
In this collection, Mr Vaccarello seems to want to reduce it to perhaps the essential, even if that risks sounding banal in this near-the-end-of-the-pandemic world. You get the slim maxi-dresses, the hoodie versions, the leather jacket and coats (some with pronounced shoulders, some not), a few blouses with pussy bows (by now a house standard), and relaxes trousers. And not a single bead, paillette, or embroidery, and yet even the jersey dresses look sleek and glamourous. The relatively small offering in terms of looks could suggest a preference for uniform dressing, perhaps; but not quite such as those adopted by folks of Silicon Valley, certainly not Elizabeth Holmes. Not for Mr Vaccarello a take on the turtleneck! Interpretive flair points to looking at the house archives and adapting judiciously, especially the colours. These are more muted than what YSL was known for, but no less seductive. Reportedly, Mr Vaccarello selected them from old Polaroids of the fittings of the past; hence, the lack of punch, but not without depth, and for those who require not the brightness of flourescent pigments in some modem dye jobs.
The restraint—chromatic and stylistic—in the collection seems to suggest a toning down, even if just for now. Perhaps this is the proverbial palate cleanser. There is, you could see, not even a single short skirt (what would Zoe Kravitz wear?! Or Blackpink’s Rosé?). Even the occasional torso-baring is overwhelmed by powerful coats, their shoulders accentuated, their hems grazing the floor. When we look at the models, walking daintily, as if they are confined in hobble skirts, as they pass the lit Eiffel Tower in the background, we wonder if the darkened figures could be the silhouette of the capital’s most famous tower, seen upside down! The favourite symbol of the city isn’t co-starring in a Saint Laurent show for the first time. Still, each continue to embody the spirit of Paris with certainty and, yes, undiminished élan.
Screen shot (top): saintlaurent.com. Photos: gorunway.com