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30th September 2021

Fashion Week’s Mid-Term Report: Saint Laurent, in Paris

While the great and the British good were walking up the Bond red carpet in London, and Kate Middleton wore Brit-label Jenny Packham to deserved applause, over in Paris, the fashion crowd were seated next to the Eiffel Tower, under a water wall, awaiting what creative director Anthony Vaccarello would serve.

Lockdown was a challenging time for couture and ready-to-wear designers, and while they turned to digital presentations to present their collections, we waited to see what would happen when the world started to move again. We live so much online now. Whether it’s reels or stories, everything is about curated, short, snapshots of the world. It was happening so much in fashion, we wondered if we could ever go back.

Anthony Vacarello reminded us of why the fashion show reigns supreme when it comes to presenting high fashion. It’s about the mood, the music, the audience, and the atmosphere. In the past, we had to wait until the pictures appeared in the fashion press or started popping up on TV style feeds: Vaccarello is very much a child of the 90’s, and grew up watching Fashion TV.

The designer says he is truly inspired by a woman who also happened to be a leading muse for Yves Saint Laurent himself: Paloma Picasso. Strong on style, a red lip, tailoring and a covetable jewellery collection, the daughter of one of the world’s leading artists is chic personified.

It’s hard to pin down all of the style points and references in this collection. But as an eyewear fan I was so delighted that the designer sent out nearly every model in either sunglasses or optical glasses. And what a selection there was: from Grace Jones-inspired wraparounds, to huge, bug shades, there was something to suit everyone. They added to the drama, and sense of theatre, but when real life comes for the rest of us next Spring/Summer, they are the type of models which lead your outfit. Your clothes will simply follow.

And the outfits? There were catsuits, in black and jewel tones, for the daring. For those of us who need something more forgiving, there was YSL-inspired tailoring at its finest. From gilt-buttoned velvet jackets to a 2022 take on Le Smoking, in the form of a beautiful cocktail dress. The accessories were masterstrokes, colourful and very visible: it was like raiding a Saint Laurent vault, and picking out only the very best. By the time the show closed, I had tears in my eyes.

In unsettled times, fashion provides history. It’s not just about clothes. If you look at your own past, or films and TV and music you have loved, the outfits play a huge part of it. Vaccerello raised the bar and created a magical evening. For those actually on the Front Row, they actually got soaked by the water wall. After being indoors for months, I’m sure they didn’t mind raining on their own couture.

For the rest of us, we got to watch in awe. And for next season, I’m definitely coveting a statement pair of Saint Laurent shades, to pair with a statement lip and some oversized, emerald drop earrings.

As a child of the 1980’s I was in awe of Paloma Picasso. (If you are more youthful, Google her!) Although I’m not owning up to my age. The French consider it very rude to ask a lady that kind of detail.

But I’ll quite gladly discuss my YSL eyewear collection. Next up, in 2022: I’m going big, and I’m definitely not going home.

Nancy Buckland-Kirk for Blankstone
Images courtesy of Saint Laurent show live feed 28/09/2021
Nancy is a noted fashion writer and reporter, who will be contributing her own style slant for our Blog: eyewear, trends and beyond.