The dramatic location for Saint Laurent’s Fall 2021 collection was anything but ordinary. Vast, sweeping landscapes devoid of sun and partial to elemental ruptures of water, ice, wind and sand, were the backdrop for YSL creative director Anthony Vacarello’s post-pandemic world. It could easily have been a film set with the cast of Lost, so out of place where these girls in these uninhabitable environs.
The surroundings were poignant to current times, of course. If the quintessential YSL girl is forever linked to nocturnal activities in glamorous surroundings, she too has changed. For all the talk of life after Covid-19 heralding a return to dressing up, Vacarello chose not to make party dresses his main theme. In an interview with Condé Nast he said he wanted Saint Laurent to be “more light and playful, but it’s not just about going out to bars and parties. Life can’t just be when it’s bad we are all in black and pajamas and when it’s good we are in slutty dresses.”
The answer lies in the hem
Dresses were short, to be sure: thigh-skimming bouclés trimmed with faux fur, or metallic leather with full frontal zips, with all accents on the hem. Jackets and cardigans had trimmed sleeves, too, and added subtle layers of protection. These were the real winners, throw them over a pair of jeans, a dress, or the tiniest of shorts, and voilà! They came in rich hues of purple, teal, scarlet and fur (never real) and were exquisitely detailed to make investing in a blazer worthwhile.
What stole the show, however, were the accessories. Like Bottega Veneta, also under Kering’s portfolio of luxury maisons, Vacarello has created a successful signature of desirable shoes, bags and jewellery that remain ever covetable. Slingback heels came with toe-capped vernis, an elegant mix of rock and roll with an eighties platitude. The thigh-high boots are as lush as they are louche, the high and low mix Vacarello does so well. Yes, they could be Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, but they are also undeniably Parisian chic, like Charlotte Gainsbourg and Vanessa Paradis, if she weren’t tied to Chanel.
Layers of bijoux, chunky necklaces, dropdown earrings and chain belts finished the looks, always a fine line between elegance and kitsch. If anything, this collection is fun and playful, despite the moody and overcast landscapes. “Fashion is something you don’t take too seriously,” Vacarello told Vogue. “Especially now, when nothing is really necessary.”