Saint Laurent Trades In The Runway For The Desert

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Courtesy of Saint Laurent

Fashion in 2020 has taken a turn. We traded in heels for slippers and dressed up to go nowhere. Designers reimagined the spring-summer 2021 season into digital presentations, masked events, staged runways, or opted out of showing altogether. Those that did were creative, but the successful collections were the ones empathetic to both the devastating and joyful events that occurred in quarantine. “I wanted to focus on the essence of things,” creative director Anthony Vaccarello said in the press release for Saint Laurent’s Summer21 collection, which premiered today. “I think it’s a sign of the times, but I didn’t want anything bleak or heavy.”

In a stunning video comprised of 66 looks, Vaccarello traded in the twinkling stage of the Eiffel Tower for the desert of North Africa. Saint Laurent himself was born in Algeria, so it only made sense for the brand to return to its origins. “The desert, to me, symbolizes that yearn for serenity, open space, a slower rhythm,” Vaccarello said. “The clothes are also softer, the spirit of the collection is more gentle, stripped back.”

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The result is quiet. Instead of heels stomping down the pavement under the Parisian stars, stiletto-clad models walked under the blazing sun across a sandy dune. (How, exactly, is still undetermined.) The clothes are less fitted than the skintight latex we’ve become accustomed to from Vaccarello, so consider this his definition of comfort. Fabrics pull away from the body in pleated trousers and airy, feather-trimmed eveningwear inspired by the ’60s. The house’s iconic Smoking Jacket is revisited in its truest form, a selection of jewelry is designed by Claude Lalanne, and biker shorts are prominent, because during uncertain times, at least you can rely on Saint Laurent for a leggy look. No, this isn’t a quarantine collection filled with sweatpants and hoodies, but it’s a far cry from the more restrictive silhouettes we’re used to from the Parisian house. It’s softened, without losing the high-glamour some of us crave from our WFH caverns.

The video presentation shifts to night and the runway catches fire, silhouetting the models in a moody finale. The words “I wish you were here” flash across the screen and close the show. Truer words can’t be spoken this year, about fashion and beyond.

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