Saint Laurent’s AW21 collection is an ode to Peaches
For AW21, Anthony Vaccarello wanted to blur the line between “cheesy and luxurious” — so he looked to Berlin’s queen of electroclash for inspiration.
All images courtesy of Saint Laurent
Before the pandemic, Saint Laurent put on some of the most dazzling shows of Paris Fashion Week. Often set against a backdrop of a glittering Eiffel Tower, a line-up of the most Amazonian supermodels in the world would slink down the runway in unapologetically sexy, badass fashion designed by the house’s Belgian creative director, Anthony Vaccarello. But the last year has turned everything upside down. No longer showing on the official fashion week calendar, Saint Laurent has taken its renegade spirit to the furthest corners of the world — if not physically, then digitally. The past year, its cinematic digital presentations have been set in deserts and on rooftops. Where other houses have struggled to make their shows translate to the new virtual reality, Saint Laurent has done so effortlessly. The sky's the limit. Often, quite literally.
For AW21, the French house took it one step further. The location of its new fashion film? It changes throughout, going from cliffside to Arctic icebergs to waterfalls to heathered hills, in a matter of seconds (courtesy of some very clever CGI). Not that the gusty weather conditions phase the Saint Laurent girls — they’re carrying their jackets over one shoulder, braving the cold in miniskirts and thigh high boots. “When I was thinking about this collection, I had this place in mind, like a movie director,” explained Anthony. Where was it exactly? “The place, it’s in my imagination! It’s the idea of a girl in a landscape where she doesn’t belong. I knew I wanted a wintry location, one which showed how strong nature is; how we are really nothing next to it, how ephemeral we are. It’s not a place where anyone is going skiing, but Saint Laurent should do something that’s like a dream.”
The clothes were dreamy, too. Glittering embellished jackets and elongated four-pocket cardigans; not-your-granny’s Mod-ish tweed suits worn over rave-y deep-cut metallic jersey leotards; shrunken leather shorts and skirts with fluffy trims; and of course, Saint Laurent’s signature pin-sharp le smoking tailoring — all of which was worn with lashings of kitsch costume jewellery. It was one of Anthony’s most playful and colourful collections yet (Yves Saint Laurent, after all, was one of the last century’s greatest colourists) and was made all the brighter and bolder set against the volcanic grey, mottled-sky backdrop of the Great Outdoors.
The unlikely muse for it all was Peaches. Yes, as in the Canadian-born, Berlin-based electroclash queen who famously sang — or screamed — “fuck the pain away”. Anthony was drawn to her garish sense of style, borrowing what he called her “glitzy imperfections” to blur the line between “cheesy and luxurious”. “I wanted to push the line which separates bad and good taste, blurring each other's limits,” he elaborated. “It’s very French to walk that line between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad.’ It’s about the shapes of the 60s with the colours of the 80s.” Fashion, as he points out, should be irrepressibly light, even in the darkest of times. We had enough sombre fashion to see us through the seemingly never-ending lockdown, after all. “Serious matters push you to take other things less seriously,” he added. What is serious, however, is the level of workmanship that goes into each piece — ornate embellishments and beautiful fabrics, styled to be irreverent and effortless as a supermodel hiking through the Arctic in a mini dress.
Anthony is a designer for whom it’s important to create dreams and fantasy. He’s designing for one of the most venerated fashion houses in history — and his customers want glamour! “I am doing things for the present; I don’t know what the future will be. I want Saint Laurent to be lighter and more playful, but… it’s not just about going out to bars and parties,” he continued. “Life can’t just be when it’s bad we are all in black and pyjamas and when it’s good we are in slutty dresses. After the last couple of years, we can’t just go back, otherwise we will lose what we all lived through. Fashion should be something you don’t take too seriously, especially now.”