“I never gave up on being dressed, even when the trend was about sportswear,” says Saint Laurent’s Anthony Vaccarello of his pre-fall women’s collection, the until-now-unseen curtain raiser to his sublime and epic winter show, presented earlier this year. “I am glad that people want to dress up again, because for me nothing has changed.” Never let it be said that Vaccarello doesn’t have unerring instincts. When the rest of the world was letting it all hang out while being holed up at home, he was showing hyper-colored tweedy suits dripping with jewels on an icy tundra, or had marabou and pop-floral chiffon marching across a vast Sahara-like vista; big themes, big landscapes, big drama. In their way they were as much paeans to hope for the future as statements of intent about how you might want to dress in the present. Except change was to a degree part of the narrative: Vaccarello also took on board the prevailing desire for comfort and ease, he just didn’t do it in the obvious, cliched or un-YSL of ways; there were modern compact jerseys and fluid silks to move in and to feel free in. This pre-fall collection builds on that as much as planting the seeds for the aforementioned winter, which he describes as “lots of volumes, more rounded shapes, a bit of Art Deco, a bit ’90s and a bit of Poiret.” His trick is to take all of that and work it through some of the classic Saint Laurent-isms. The columnar line for evening that Yves loved so much now looks perfect for daytime, partnered with a tough belted leather jacket and an armful of bangles. The iconic le smoking also makes it to the other side of the dawn, as an eased up suit, a cape, or a sharp-shouldered coat. Those are just some of the strong outerwear statements on show here: oversized faux furs, cozily chic but with a casual flick-the-collar-up attitude; voluminous-shouldered cocoon coats and nifty leather trenches thrown over some particularly ravishing slithery lingerie slip dresses, a hint of romanticism given by their guipure or frothy lace edges. Finishing all this off: stretch velvet high-heeled boots; gilt-trimmed square-toed pumps; and frame topped handbags. Magnifique.
Some things just don’t change. Like Isabel Marant collections. They always give… Isabel Marant. And that’s not a bad thing – in our turbulent and ever-changing world, at least she offers us some reassuring stability. “For me, this season was about this ballad of a girl, she’s really going to the essentials; she wears a knitted dress with a huge coat over it. I wanted to do something very evident and very cozy, and easy to wear, and being naively sexy. She’s very discreet and at the same time very powerful,” said the eternal Parisian woman. There were indeed little sweater dresses worn under big coats, accompanied by the over-the-knee boots that have become one of the season’s key trends. Another combination that in the before times of the pre-pandemic might’ve seemed surprising, but now looks like the new normal: the glam sport of a sexy evening top (here in stretch panné velvet) and shell pants. Beyond the boots and oversize outerwear, this show told us definitely that cargo pants will be big next autumn, and that pants in general are going to be lower-slung and longer of leg, likely with a little kick flare. If this designer has anything to do with it, we’ll all be in baggy jeans, too. Rianne Van Rompaey closed the show in a faded black pair with drop pockets and, as promised, a super-relaxed slouch.
Many brands release their spring-summer 2021 collections right now, a month after the fashion month frenzy. For many, it’s the season of uncertainty. While the clothes will be produced, will anyone buy them? Will there be a reason to shop again? Will 2021 be saved by the vaccine or doomed by the total lockdown? This is a pack of questions that disturb everyone, from small labels to big players. And of course, the present times are also full of anxiety. On a video call with Vogue, Jean Touitou predicted that 2020 will “end up not as catastrophic as we thought at first” for brand A.P.C. Naturally, he had a theory as to why. “Is it because we do clothes,” he asked, “instead of just images of clothes?” Not waiting for an answer, he commented, “Reflection counts for more than substance” in this industry. These days, Touitou is coming around to the idea of content, “as long as it’s ‘very personal’ and ‘matter-of-fact.’” He said he’s considering a podcast series in which he and his three kids play a song and talk about its maker; episode one may feature “Arnold Layne,” a Syd Barrett tune off This Is Pink Floyd and the band’s very first single. “Playing music with our kids, nobody can do that but me,” Touitou reasoned. It’s thanks to Jean and Judith’s daughter Haydée that Tim Elkaim shot this season’s look book. She hired him for her magazine, The Skirt Chronicles, before he got this gig. “A virtuous circle,” Touitou called the familial give-and-take. What about the clothes? There’s lots to love, pretty much as usual with A.P.C. The oversized jeans with off-center button flies that first made an appearance last season returned here, and the same treatment was applied to a raw denim mini. All of the button-downs were buttoned up to the top and finished with a thick gold chain worn high under the collar. In one case, a chambray shirt was accessorized by three chains. Cool classics that have that Parisian soul – this just can’t go wrong.
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!
Finally, there’s someone in Paris with a fresh take on the Parisian. It’s easy to imagine Guillaume Henry‘s Patou as a bit of a friendly girl’s club now. It has fun-silly signatures like sailor caps topped with pom-poms and ’80s pumps with rabbit-ear bows on the toes. But there’s nothing gimmicky about it. It’s a brand Henry wants people to rely on, for a great peacoat, a striped marinere sweater – and for really useful dresses. The point for Henry is that this is a brand that has been reimagined as relatable, very French – “Well, I am French!” – not insanely priced, and also set up to be as transparent and mindful about sourcing as it can be as it goes along. For instance, the wool and taffeta is upcycled, cotton is organic, and the company takes care to explain certifications and its supply chain to customers. Now a bit about the pleasing autumn-winter 2020 offering, which is all about comfortable, yet chic daywear (and eveningwear). The designer explained how Jean Patou had set up his company a century ago, with his new menthality for a French brand at the time. “He had a bar in his store so people could relax and have a drink, and his in-house shows would turn into parties after. And he was one of the first to design for the weekend, when everyone started going to Deauville and Biarritz and all that.” This sort of laid-back mood is perceivable in the collection and its fun styling. The JP logo, with its Art Deco 1920s feel is embroidered or knitted into sweaters. And then, of course, there’s the Jean Patou of the 1980s. “Christian Lacroix was here! And Karl Lagerfeld too. It was his first job!” Henry’s taffeta puffball skirts and Provençal lace blouses nod to Lacroix’s period, which is a witty thing to do.