Back in April, as the early days of the pandemic wreaked havoc on the fashion industry as a whole, Saint Laurent announced it would be taking itself off of the traditional calendar entirely.
“Conscious of the current circumstance and its waves of radical change, Saint Laurent has decided to take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” a press release from the brand read. “Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm, legitimating the value of time and connecting with people globally by getting closer to them in their own space and lives.”
It was the first major European brand to do so (and still one of the only.) Indeed, Saint Laurent was absent from the Paris Fashion Week schedule in late September. Anthony Vaccarello held his Spring 2021 collection — what the brand is dubbing “Summer 2021” — until Tuesday, when it was unveiled via a film shot by Nathalie Canguilhem in the middle of a desert. Models snaked across a sand dune embossed with the YSL logo, appearing seemingly from nowhere.
If Fall 2020 was all about ultra-sexy secretaries in latex and lace, Summer 2021 takes a 180-degree turn into the land of comfort and ease — at least, Saint Laurent’s version of those things. Not even Vaccarello is immune to the appeals of our Zoom-dominated era of social distance dressing.
“I wanted to focus on the essence of things. I think it’s a sign of the times,” he writes, in a release. “But I didn’t want anything bleak or heavy. The desert, to me, symbolizes that yearn for serenity, open space, a slower rhythm. The clothes are also softer, the spirit of the collection is more gentle, stripped back.”
What does that mean in Saint Laurent’s typically short-shorted, sequin-vested world? Well, bike shorts, for one — hardly a reinvention of the wheel, but still sexy paired with a sharply-tailored jacket or a slinky blouse. Less practical are the lace and satin hot pants paired with lightweight knits and button downs, but then, the Saint Laurent customer has never let anything like practicality get in the way. (Besides, who sees anything other than your top half anymore, anyway?)
There are still touches of those over-the-top embellishments Vaccarello loves so much, whether it’s sequins on a bodysuit or fluffs of feathers along a flowing chiffon blouse. The color scheme was largely black and white, with a few pops of patterns; all the better to show off the sculptural jewelry, a selection of which was by Claude Lalanne. And while I generally object to making models navigate literal piles of sand in heels — I know flats aren’t really Vaccarello’s thing, but couldn’t we have made some sandals for the occasion? — there is something appealing about the vaguely square toed, ’90s-feeling cap-toed slingbacks.
Of course, while it’s nice to be able to see details up close in the video format, it also makes the thinness of the models extremely obvious. Vaccarello is one of fashion’s worst offenders when it comes to a complete lack of any body diversity on the runway, and it would be nice to see his uber-sensual designs take life on bodies with more curves, too.
As models snake along a fire-blazed path into the night, the video ends with a title card from Vaccarello reading, “I wish you were here.” As simple and effective a message as the Summer 2021 collection itself.
See the complete Summer 2021 collection in the gallery below: