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.
First of all, I’m not a suit guy. I usually hate ties and don’t feel comfortable in blazers. My personal style is rather this: a vintage cashmere knit, Lemaire-ish, over-sized pants (a big no to any sweatpants!), a big coat and Raf Simons sneakers. I yawn at all Zegnas and Brionis (although I respect them), as men’s tailoring is quite uninspiring to me. But there’s one exception. And it’s Husbands Paris. Whenever I see their posts on Instagram, I’m obsessed. Everything is a dream, really, from their signature knitted ties (they might be an ideal option that wouldn’t make me feel out of breath) to the most delightful trench coats. You’ll find Husbands between the orbits of tailoring and fashion, plucking the craftsmanship from the former and stories from the latter to fill an otherwise uninhabited space of the industry with culture and style. The mind behind it, Nicolas Gabard, is as clued up on the technicalities of suit making as he is on the depths of Francis Bacon’s art. This understanding of two worlds has allowed him to birth a bespoke identity of design. In an interview with GQ, he says “craftsmanship is the secret of style“. “Husbands comes from an obsession with the body – of precision and details. We keep the full canvas of tailoring and its construction because it guarantees a lasting garment. Technically, we offer a perfect piece, but its life comes when the wearer composes something with it.” That’s where the culture comes in. Gabard views fashion as an outlet for “phantasm” and, after stitching on the roots of tailoring through one eye, he seals his designs with stories through the other. They originate from expressive interests, like llistening to The Smiths and Joy Division or watching films by Eric Rohmer. Husbands is proposing the thread of forever intriguing style icons, like Serge Gainsbourg, and then using it as a hook to dig people into exploring the possibilities of their own identities. The label sources its materials from England and manufactures its suits in Naples, but Paris is the base that provides an essential interplay with the individual’s state of mind. As Gabard says, “you don’t have to live the life of other people and that’s the same for clothing – you have to wear your own garments with your body, your culture, your dreams, your past, your phantasm.”
Discover the brand here or visit their store in Paris on 57 Rue de Richelieu (in post-lockdown times, of course…).
Collage by Edward Kanarecki, photos sourced from Husbands Paris site and Instagram.
There are seasons when I love Ami. And spring-summer 2021 is definitely a highlight in Alexandre Mattiussi‘s repertoire. “Doing a physical show is a kind of political thing,” the designer said, elaborating that amid the pandemic and crumbling political situations around the world, he thinks “fashion needs to find humility in the situation.” The Ami version of humility might sound quite dramatic: veside the Seine, Mattiussi held a fashion show on a black wood runway complete with a soundtrack by DJ Jennifer Cardini and a cast of famous models like Clement Chabernaud, Amalia Vairelli, Audrey Marnay and Georgina Grenville. To counter the evening affair, Matiussi sent out clothing with a relaxed spirit. He described his co-ed, spring-summer 2021 men’s and women’s collections as “sophisticated but not pretentious.” The slim plaid maxiskirts and black wool LBDs proved the point for women, the louche seafoam and chocolate suits and baggy shorts did it for men. A series of mesh tanks, styled throughout with vacation-y beaded necklaces, emphasized the chill vibes.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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.
Marc Jacobs‘ phenomenal autumn-winter 2020 collection is probably one of my favourite moments of the entire season. The runway featured a dance performance choreographed by Karole Armitage, New York’s „punk ballerina”, with the catwalk staged like a bistro. At some point it was hard to tell who’s the model and who’s the dancer (everybody was dressed in Jacobs), and that was the intention: beauty in chaos, told through powerful movement. Infinitely inspired by his heroes of the past and present, it is style, in which different people dress at the various stages, ages and times in their lives, that provokes Marc’s love for fashion and possibilities of what it can be. The designer especially had the fading image of disappearing New York in his mind – forever mythical and chic, with its „beauty, promise, sparkle and grit”. The simple, yet unbelievably elegant look Sara Grace Wallerstedt wore – black bra worn underneath a cable-knit cardigan, black pencil skirt, kitten heels with socks and a head-band – is the style refinement level that equals to Holly Golightly’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s wardrobe. When I rewatched this film a few days ago, I just couldn’t not think about Jacobs’ recent line-up.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki featuring Steven Meisel‘s photo for Vogue Italia‘s April 1999 issue.