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In an Unnamed Desert, a Fashion Runway Pays Odes to Heritage

By Joe Tan

Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello
 
Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello

“I wanted to focus on the essence of things,” says creative director Anthony Vaccarello on his latest offerings for Saint Laurent’s latest Summer ’21 collection. The runway was presented in the form of a spellbinding film made with his longtime collaborator Nathalie Canguilhem, and livestreamed digitally online. Opening with panoramic views of a sun-bleached desert, the film progresses to unveil the looks presented on a cascading entourage of models styled with alternative haircuts that at times complement or juxtapose the diverse wardrobe. 

Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello

 

This collection notably emphasises an introspective sensibility — looking into its treasured archives, particularly the Sixties, for inspired updates on iconic looks, relevant for today’s digital human interaction reality. The Le Smoking, for instance, is rendered in new softer textiles, and comes in silhouettes of varying proportions — cropped above the navel, with added exaggerated lapels, and comes with tapered or wide-set trousers. Informed by Vaccarello’s direction, the strong-shouldered tailoring exemplified on a selection of tidy overcoats, are similarly generously cut for comfort and cinched at the waist, to outline the body while retaining an overall “more gentle, stripped back,” silhouette. 

Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello
Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello

The haute bohemienne, who Monsieur Saint Laurent was so entranced by himself in the form of his longtime confidante and muse — Loulou de la Falaise, also makes a noteworthy revival on a series of floral chiffon dresses reminiscent of ethnic tapestries, done up in the fashion house’s signature palette of bold reds, emerald and fuchsia, amongst a kaleidoscope of other jewel colours. “I didn’t want anything bleak or heavy,” says Vaccarello. These are finished at the sleeves or hemlines, or both, with fluffy tufts of Marabout fringes and feathers, to imbue “a not so quaint charm, somewhere between fantasy and fancy.”

Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello
Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello

Nodding towards de la Falaise’s glamorous style too, is a gleaming selection of oversized jewellery, designed by sculptor Claude Lalanne. Adorned as belt buckles, bracelets, earrings and necklaces, they immortalise the natural complexities of a multitude of floral species as intricate designs in brilliant gold. A bronzed bustier top, a reissue design from the aforementioned artist, is shown to be curiously worn under a tuxedo, which opens up new conversations for feminine smart-dressing today. The intimate mood of sensuality, foundational to the designs and life of the man who started the fashion house, also makes a starring appearance on a number of kitschy looks consisting of little more than thinly-veiled negligee. 

Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello
Saint Laurent Summer ’21 by Anthony Vaccarello

The runway location, that was deliberately kept a secret, recalls the origins of the fashion house’s namesake founder; Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent was born in then French Algeria in North Africa, where deserts are simply an everyday landscape to view, and makes for an impressive backdrop. At the end of the film, Vaccarello whispers via a title card, “I wish you were here,” though one gets a sense that he is referring to the metaphorical as opposed to the literal, to roll with the punches and to “yearn for serenity, a slower rhythm,” and to hope for a time where the world becomes a touch better.

Discover more on Saint Laurent Summer ’21 collection