MANIFESTO

#63

CHANGE OF SPACE

POWER IS OUTSPOKEN

2024.02.28

Text by Francesca Fontanesi

An elegant sense of power pervades the latest Saint Laurent runway. There’s a duality that merges elegance and provocation, a carnal convergence between garment and body. Revisiting Yves’s codes, blouses, shirts, ultra-tight skirts, and silk dresses culminate in a powerful aesthetic imagery.

The length is classic, but the content is new. For the new FW24 collection by Saint Laurent, blouses, shirts, tight-fitting skirts, and silk dresses resembling strictly transparent evening robes de soir down the runway: transparency – the signature of master Yves – is reinterpreted this time, minimizing the distance between garment and skin so that the two can blend perfectly, characterizing all forty-eight looks on the catwalk. A detail that has long been the identifying code of Saint Laurent, but for Anthony Vaccarello, transparent blouses (worn without a bra, skin-to-skin) function as a tribute to the memory of what was once at the center of fashion, making it invisible: clothes. The collection plays with color, exploring jewel tones, dusty shades, and desert khakis, muted and intensified by subtle textures that coexist in perfect harmony with masculine tailoring. Stoles and bulky coats made with marabou feathers sharpen an elegant sense of power alongside ultra-chic Cabans and coats inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s beatniks of 1962. The Maison stages a tense, sharp silhouette that elongates and wraps around the body in the form of blouses with bow ties at the neck, pencil skirts, and draped dresses just below the knee in a palette ranging from beige to caramel, olive, ochre, chocolate brown, vermilion, and black. The shapes follow the same definition of rigidity and correctness even though the transparencies say otherwise; there is a duality, a radical experiment of carnal conjunction between garment and body. Tailored pieces take on a rare fluidity, culminating in a complete crêpe de georgette that seems to liquefy upon itself. Fabrics blur the diaphanous nature of the garments, making them less simple and more ambiguous.

“In this moment, there’s so much fashion, so many things that all seem the same. I wanted to propose something that had never been done before, something that would excite me. I think my job is to propose something different that isn’t necessarily realistic or necessary”.

– Anthony Vaccarello

A sense of elusive freedom runs through the entire collection. The fluid movement generated by soft fabrics, such as muslin, animates the body, covering and revealing it, accompanying the body as if it were a second skin. The theme of transparency, transposed through a particularly current prism, extends to faceted glass jewels that resemble more of a mold than an actual shape, while the idea of entering an intimate environment informs the boudoir-style location: two circular rooms lined with emerald velvet damask, a tribute to the couture workshops where Yves moved in 1974.

Next, the accessories: paying homage to the turbans of the 1977 Ballet Russes collection, models wear knotted scarves framing maxi square, round, or diamond shaped jewel earrings. Thin belts resembling whips – in glossy burgundy leather or with elegant gold chains – and wedge or stiletto sandals, embellished with patent ankle straps; layered lucite bracelets complete the look. Hands sink into furs. And then there are the stockings. Anthony Vaccarello brings to life a universe entirely woven from nylon stockings, a symbol of a powerful aesthetic imaginary, enveloping his models from head to toe. The fabric for the stockings is torn, frayed, but used in this measure to showcase the exceptional craftsmanship of the Saint Laurent ateliers. Gathered in these layers, they reveal their silhouettes as if through X-ray images of skirts, tops, and dresses, further embellished by marabou stoles or leather jackets. Hand-carried stoles, maxi bags, and oversized jackets are glimpsed. A turban wraps around the models’ heads, also made of sheer stockings, almost always in contrast with the rest of the palette. Meanwhile, the nude look extends to the jewelry, made of glass. The set, reminiscent of a boudoir with rooms lined in emerald velvet damask, evokes the salons of number 5 Avenue Marceau. But this collection plays with our limits and perceptions and makes us think it’s destined to be ephemeral, transitory, fading almost as quickly as a nighttime escape between lovers. Prodding at the obligatory correctness of feminine artificiality, ephemeral lightness reveals itself as an illusion: can purity be provocative? In the end, the spectrum of fashion as we knew it becomes tangible, embodied by the Saint Laurent woman and her worldly appetites.

Evoking the indelible naked gown worn for her last public appearance by Marilyn Monroe – a frequent reference for the maison – an unsettling ambivalence cuts through the looks.

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