Alber’s. Yves Saint Laurent AW00

All that holiday season is also a good time for induldging in the fashion archives. Many don’t know that (or simply don’t remember – or were barely born then!) Alber Elbaz worked as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent from 1998 until he was fired after three seasons when Gucci bought the company in 2000 and Tom Ford took over the creative direction. Autumn-winter 2000 was Elbaz’s last collection for the maison, but also his best. As Vogue’s Hamish Bowles recalls, “he finally hit the target with a controlled collection that proved a strong modern take on the house’s timeless chic. Elbaz elongated and chiseled the classic proportions of the trademark boxy jackets and pencil skirts, and showed them with black glove-leather shirts with matching narrow ties – a cool, modern spin for the classic YSL suit. With satin revers on an overscale man’s Crombie coat, he also gave a contemporary twist to ‘le Smoking.'” Looking at the collection now, it feels so relevant and distinctly YSL at the same time. Leaving ‘grand soir’ statements to the master Yves himself and the haute couture collection he continued to design at the time, Elbaz sent out a capsule of few, after-dark looks for his finale. Classic metallic lace looked chic again, in long-sleeved midi dresses styled with hip-slung crocodile belts and wrinkled ’70s cavalier boots. Great-looking tarnished brass lamé suits with black chiffon blouses, body-skimming cocktail dresses in black slipper-satin, and entrance-making flapper dresses were followed by a final stylish take on a YSL classic – the sheer black chiffon blouse with a skirt made entirely of ostrich feathers. No wonder why after this collection, Lanvin invited Elbaz to take over the brand… and he did wonders there for more than a decade!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Junya Watanabe’s Techno Couture

Pre-Instagram times, a collection worth thousands of posts (and unforgettable, eye-catchy content…). Back in 2000, Junya Watanabe presented one of his most ethereal collections ever. At first glance, the honeycomb ruffs Watanabe showed in his “Techno Couture” line-up called to mind those seen in Rembrandt portraits. Well, not exactly: those starched confections couldn’t fold and be stored in an envelope, like Watanabe’s ground-breaking designs. They certainly weren’t made of a “techno” fabric like polyester chiffon, from which the designer created his exaggerated take on the ruff, transforming it from an accessory to a garment with an organic-meets-space-age aesthetic. The material might have been unknown in Rembrandt’s time, but its method of production – hand sewing – certainly was. In the above collage, some of my favourites looks from the collection interact with Malwina Konopacka‘s “Forms” collection of ceramic tableware.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, ceramics and photo by Malwina Konopacka.