Tuesday 15th December

| BY Paul Toner

Saint Laurent: Ready-to-Wear SS21

Anthony Vaccarello is a designer never short of spectacle. His catwalk shows are usually set against the twinkling backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, which serves as a guiding light for the Saint Laurent women that saunter on down his catwalks. Though today, away from Paris – and Europe entirely – came possibly Vaccarello’s most ambitious show to date.

After it was announced back in April that Saint Laurent would step off schedule for its 2020 showcases, the brand’s spring/summer 2021 catwalk wasn’t really a catwalk at all, but a seemingly infinite desert landscape in an unbeknown location. The designer dubbed it an “invitation for escapism,” as a cohort of models glided along sand dunes in mod crops, buzzed locks and beach-waved curls.

Lockdown offered Vacarello the time and patience to scavage through the house’s archives with a fine-tooth comb. His aim wasn’t to re-energise 1980s shapes, or pull a certain pussy-blow blouse from the nineties. Instead, he needed to soften up his usual approach to design in adjustment to life now spent indoors, on the settee, without ever sacrificing a strong silhouette.

Luckily, the designer discovered a thick jersey Yves Saint Laurent first used in 1968, which allows the body to move with ease and comfort. The fluid fabric was used to craft unitards trimmed with marabou feathers, as well as flared catsuits and soft-shouldered mod dresses. These were worn alongside new versions of Le Smoking – think tuxedo jackets sliced below the bellybutton, stripped down to waistcoats and even deconstructed into halter-neck variations.

The freedom of movement was expressed through other standouts. Floral caftans and sixties bikinis brought the kitsch, whilst high-cut leather thongs and lacey leotards rilled up the sex appeal. Vaccarello didn’t rely on nostalgia for life pre-Covid with this collection, his first womenswear outing since the pandemic began. Instead, he created an adaptable wardrobe that could easily slide into the lives of all types of women. Practicality has never looked so darn good.

Photography courtesy of Saint Laurent, video directed by Nathalie Canguilhem.