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Saint Laurent’s Mystery Tour

Saint Laurent headed north for its A/W 2021 collection. About the exact locale, nobody knows other than – as a scouting and modelling exercise – it can’t have been very cosy.

The ouvre of the collection video is reminiscent of the 2012 Tom Cruise movie Oblivion: sweeping shots across grandiose plateaus and charcoal vistas and climbs. Anthony Vaccarello’s explantion that, “It’s the idea of a girl in a landscape where she doesn’t belong” partly matches themes from said film. But where Olga Kurylenko and Cruise pursued a return to Eden-like innocence via sci-fi action, Saint Laurent‘s girls are anchored in the secular terrain, no matter how damn cold their steel capped toes may be.

As a fashion ideal, the sparse/nature narrative runs counter to the likelihood that only very wealthy ladies in manufactured environs will wear these clothes (Kurylenko had a jumpsuit and a spaceship).

But muted colours and slivers of texture are where YSL usually takes off; metallic and muted hues [chartreuse, daikon green, burnt amber] that intergrate with and bleed from the landscape as they would a modern city, with enough suffused shine and edge that it rubs against the zeitgiest or the wilds.

Perhaps a return to the elements or a simpler ‘Eden’ is the less-is-more conclusion. YSL has always been skinny and cropped but here it’s more bare bones. Vaccarello talks about fun, but this is skimpy as deconstruction of the superflous.

Even existenially stripping is still stripping though; Vogue‘s Mark Holgate posited the look somewhere between [rock] goddess and post-punk disrepute, but is doesn’t take much imagination to see Mika Schneider in underpants as a provocation on France’s new consent laws, or at least an aggravation of the politics of sexual power.

The line is fine: these ‘runaway’ girls – none of them beyond a size six, with miniscule busts – look like they want to challenge the Lolita paradox: that they are nothing more than desirable, and nothing less than all powerful.

Or maybe they simply want to do their own thing. Tailleurs are a middle finger push-back at any prude criticism. YSL’s eternal combination of the ‘debacle’ with the sophisticated teases us with models who may have eloped sexual or polemic definitions, but those jackets let us know who’s running the show. Layers of necklaces and other jewels consolidate the sense of grabbing what they can before they escape. Cold weather makes short thrift. This scene is only temporary

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