Saint Laurent‘s menswear presents an ideology that is not only challenging to attain but is also difficult [despite or because of its similitude to the womenswear line] to describe. Both hone jet-black sveltness; drawing from the same history: the beat movement, the velvet revolution, the pre-modern gothic.
In womenswear, this manifests as a twenty-first century summation of beauty – city, politic, laissez faire, street-savvy, economy, sexuality.
YSL’s annual parade down the Chanselise does not aestheically embrace themes of sutainability or equality. Beauty is the central focus and YSL does not chase it or suggest it. It manifests it.
Menswear is a more challenging affair. Male beauty is – despite the revolution that YSL and the fashion community helped to normalize, despite metrosexuality and a move from hetronormacy – not the norm.
YSL’s menswear collection – as opposed to, say, Armani, Ralph Lauren or the sportswear brigade – forwards a refined ‘otherness’ that verges close to self-parody in its waif-like seriousness.
That’s not to say that gender fluidity in fashion should not be championed – peacock-ism is ultimately a very masculine way to behave like a women. A V&A exhbition on men’s fashion is – as Guardian writer Charlie Porter attests – a conservative and universally accepted method of trasmuting queerness.
It’s just that, in copying so readily from the womenswear ideal that beauty is the only thing that matters, YSL miss out on a masculine edge that would bring consolidate and better define its menswear collection.
Still, there are moments: It’s likely that the YSL mens suit is the finest of them all for cut and colour. The ideal of the dark horse, mysterious stranger, rake and rogue find their distillation in the YSL male model without any of the chocolate-box, secret service conservatism that segues many men into averageness.