Anthony Vaccarello’s autumn-winter 2021 Saint Laurent collection was all about contrasts: luxury and kitsch, polished and raw, elegance and trash. There was even a stark contrast between the sultry clothes the designer delivered and the (rather very) windy runway venue. Against the most jaw-dropping of backdrops (of what looked like Iceland), with ice glaciers, crashing waves, and a volcanic, black beach, Vaccarello’s girls, looking like badass rock chicks, are shown striding as if on some fantastic odyssey. “When I was thinking about this collection, I had this place in mind, like a movie director,” Vaccarello said on a call to preview his collection. “It’s the idea of a girl in a landscape where she doesn’t belong. I knew I wanted a wintry location,” he went on to say, “one which showed how strong nature is; how we are really nothing next to it, how ephemeral we are. It’s not a place where anyone is going skiing, but Saint Laurent should do something that’s like a dream: What the F?! Why is she there?” The question of why this winter’s Saint Laurent woman is indeed there is left hanging somewhere in the movie’s moody overcast skies. Every season Vaccarello’s exploration of the YSL archive has a welcome air of mystery to it; there has never been any literal, first-degree rehashing of the back catalog’s greatest hits on his watch. This time round, he was drawn to Monsieur Saint Laurent’s classically elegant mid ’60s tailleurs rendered in menswear fabrics. He ratcheted up the cool factor by cutting the jackets lean and sinuous and then matching the length of their hems to his very-mini-skirts. Then he swapped out Saint Laurent’s then preferred monochromatic palette with a fabulously opulent and in your face array of violet, cobalt, gold, and chartreuse: “It’s the shapes of the ’60s with the colors of the ’80s,” Vaccarello said by way of explanation. Finishing the looks off, he slipped gleaming metallic stretch bodysuits or the tiniest of leather miniskirts under the tailoring. Then he loaded up on the bijoux – chandelier earrings, strasse bracelets, and chokers with a four-leaf-clover motif, something else sourced from the archive. It would be remiss not to mention the ultra-long leather boots or the wickedly pointy metal-tipped heels. Watching Mica Argañaraz navigate a stony cliff edge in them gives a whole new meaning to the appellation “rock goddess.” Also, she really seemed not to care for the cold, breezy wind. “I am doing things for the present; I don’t know what the future will be,” said Vaccarello on the subject of re-emergence fashion. “I want Saint Laurent to be more light and playful, but… it’s not just about going out to bars and parties. Life can’t just be when it’s bad we are all in black and pajamas and when it’s good we are in slutty dresses. After the last couple of years we can’t just go back, otherwise we will lose what we all lived through.” In other words, when you helm a house which has long had a reputation for both exuberance and chicness, how do you take it forward in a very big world? You let the fashion fly, but also keep it down to earth. “Fashion should be something you don’t take too seriously,” he continued. “Especially now, when nothing is really necessary. It’s good to laugh about life.”
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.