Revived Chic. Saint Laurent SS21

I loved Anthony Vaccarello‘s spring-summer 2021 collection for Saint Laurent. It was an exercise in ultimate chic, an escape from lockdown dressing as we know it. And the guest-less fashion show itself was a visual feast. The hypnotic film by longtime creative accomplice Nathalie Canguilhem of models walking in a snaking single file across striated sandbanks in… well, who knows where, exactly? On a call with Vaccarello a few days ago, he wasn’t letting on. It’s worth noting that the panoramic vista as far as the eye can see performed a similar trick here as it did in February: an uninterrupted backdrop the better to showcase his new streamlined silhouette. The line-up was surprisingly soft, hard edges rounded off, save for the punk-ish haircuts of the models. There’s a general air of relaxing, sometimes even playfulness – but nothing too loose. The months of life in and out of lockdown with the attendant desire for clothes with ease and softness didn’t leave Vaccarello untouched. “With everything that was going on in the world, I wanted something softer, warmer,” he said during that phone call from Paris. “I’ve never really done ‘comfortable’ before.” He found his answer to how to approach it by delving into the YSL archives, alighting in his usual resolutely left-field and non-historicist way on the fluid, pliable jersey dressing that Saint Laurent did in 1968. But the ultimate, refined loungewear was my my favourite here: sheer kaftan gowns and flou dresses, all of them denuded of any details, save for the accessories that accompany them: a hothouse bloom tied close to the throat via a leather thong, razor-sharp slingback heels and reissued versions of Claude Lalanne’s jewellery. Vaccarello’s success here is in answering the more intimate mood of the moment; being able to connect a house whose foundations rest on a particular brand of high-octane cool glamour – a very external expression of self – with our current deep inner need for ease and solace. Even his nods to the ’60s -they also include some very Valley of the Dolls florals and marabou negligee dressing, glorious exercises in kitsch, but just enough; and those geometric updates of the classic Vidal Sassoon five-point cut – aren’t nostalgic rehashes. Instead, it’s a wish to connect that decade’s optimism with his own sense of positivity; a sense that one can start looking again to the future. And who can blame him? By the time this collection is available to buy, Vaccarello will be celebrating the milestone of his fifth anniversary at the house. “I’m not the guy I was when I first came here,” he said. “I am more sure of myself.” So too it seems is the woman he has in his mind’s eye. “She was maybe more seductive when she started,” he said, “but now she has grown up. She has much less to prove.” It’s getting better and better!

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Colours of Paris. Saint Laurent Pre-Fall 2020

While Saint Laurent‘s pre-fall 2020 is released just now – the moment when the clothes hit the stores – it has the clues of the main, runway collection which we’ve seen back in March. It was Anthony Vaccarello‘s big success with colour, something so distinct and signature for Yves. “I started really enjoying those mixes of colors with the pre-fall” Vaccarello said. “It gave me the idea and desire to continue it for winter. I always thought that [color] was not my thing… but with time I have to say I just love mixing those improbable colors together, like in a painting.” With autumn there isn’t the same maitresse vibe of winter, but instead a softer, warmer approach, using color -mainly warm rust, ochre, a deep leafy green – in a judicious way so that it exalts and amplifies the kind of pieces Vaccarello sees as his perfect super-chic, super-Parisian wardrobe. That could mean a red velvet jacket over a white open-neck blouse and with beaten-up jeans. Or it could mean a kingfisher silk blouse gleaming from beneath an ocelot-like furry bomber and leather ski pants, the shade of blue set off beautifully by a hippieish gold metal belt. The other narrative threaded throughout this season at Saint Laurent are the 1970s. Here the decade is given a different cultural context by Vaccarello. He’s not looking so much at the likes of Betty Catroux or Loulou de la Falaise, but instead Jane Fonda. “[She] is always relevant, for everything she did in the ’70s and also for what she is still doing,” he said. “She is committed and active and never afraid to stand for her beliefs.” Incidentally, the year that her feminist-empowering thriller Klute came out – 1971 – was the very same year that Yves himself sent out his controversial ’40s-by-way-of-the-’70s collection. There are shades of both in this Saint Laurent autumn: the button-through skirt in leather or patchworked denim; the fluffy chubby; the squared-off shoulder line of a double-breasted jacket. I must admit that Vaccarello’s way of doing things at Saint Laurent gets better and better with time.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Choice: Saint Laurent AW17

A few days ago I asked you on my Instagram stories to pick one of your favourite collections ever and I would make a collage with it. Here’s @elif.karadut’s choice: Anthony Vaccarello‘s autumn-winter 2017 collection for Saint Laurent! All dressed up, but nowhere to go… for now.

More of your choices are coming in the following days! If you missed the game, you can still write me your favourite collection and I will do the work. Got plenty of time. Culture isn’t cancelled, fashion isn’t cancelled!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Saint Laurent Rive Droite

The place where the Colette once used to be, now is the location for Saint Laurent Rive Droite. Thought up as a retail destination, it’s the concept store curated by Saint Laurent’s creative director Anthony Vaccarello. The Rive Droite name takes its inspiration from Saint Laurent’s Rive Gauche, the line that introduced Yves’s unique way of combining prêt-à-porter and luxury fashion with the opening of his first boutique in Paris back in 1966. The store space is built around the idea of a cultural experience, showcased through different events such as exhibitions, performances and artistic exchanges. The products on sale are also exclusive to the space, offering rare books, vintage record players, condoms, skate-boards and toy cars. I went there to see what all the buzz is about. It’s a chic store, filled with French design classics and gorgeous clothes, that’s for sure. But then, it feels like another YSL store. So when I read that “it’s better than Colette”… well, it’s definitely not.

213 rue saint Honoré

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)

Betty Catroux at Musée YSL

When walking down the streets of Paris, you just can’t miss the street posters promoting the current exhibition at Musée Yves Saint Laurent. A naked woman sits on a sofa, with her icy blonde hair and big sunglasses. It’s of course the iconic Betty Catroux. In 2020, the YSL museum is devoting a special exhibition to Catroux, the one and only Saint Laurent “female double.” The pieces displayed in the exhibition come from a major donation Betty Catroux has made to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent back in 2002. The museum gave Anthony Vaccarello (Saint Laurent’s creative director) carte blanche for curating this event. The designer approached Betty Catroux’s wardrobe from an aesthetic perspective by selecting the pieces that best reveal her unique personality and ongoing influence on the label’s signature style. “She lives and breathes Saint Laurent. An allure, a mystery, an almost nefarious aspect, an elusive yet desirable nature, all that underlies the house’s aura, and you understand the magnitude of it when you meet Betty.” That elusive aura is perceivable all over the space. Approximately fifty designs show the extent to which Betty Catroux embodied Yves Saint Laurent’s physical ideal and an attitude echoing the “masculine/feminine style” that he was developing when they first met at the nightclub The New Jimmy’s in 1967. Yves immediately fell in love with her androgynous look, which was radically different from the usual codes of femininity and seductiveness and remains the subject of ongoing fascination. Below are some photos I took during my visit. To read more about the museum, here’s the post I wrote about the place when I was here about a year ago.

All photos by Edward Kanarecki.

(P.S. If you are inspired by my Parisian coverage, I’m really happy about, but please have in mind that now isn’t a safe time for any sorts of travelling. Stay at home!)