Saint Laurent was one of the first big brands to announce its break away from the traditional fashion calendar when the pandemic began. Now working on a schedule completely its own, the brand is one of the last to show spring/summer 2021—almost three months after most brands have presented theirs. Despite opting for a film format instead of a live runway, the sense of drama that Anthony Vaccarello loves for his shows have not been diminished one bit—this latest one staged against an epic backdrop of seemingly endless sand and sky. 

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Vaccarello, however, did dial down the bombast in his clothes, which had a new realism and ease that spoke of the current moment. Gone were the poufy clouds of fabric, the skintight latex, the linebacker shoulders. Instead, there were sharp black tailoring and suiting, tunics worn with trousers, light collarless jackets, shrunken blazers and vests worn with loose pleated pants, and fuss-free little ‘60s shifts. “I wanted to focus on the essence of things. I think it’s a sign of the times. But I didn’t want anything bleak or heavy. The clothes are also softer; the spirit of the collection is more gentle, stripped back,” says Vaccarello.  

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The softness that Vaccarello mentioned came through most prominently in his emphasis on jersey and knitwear, as well as the negligee and baby-doll pieces trimmed with marabou feathers. The bike shorts also struck a more casual tone than usual, and were deployed to dress down pussybow blouses and boxy jackets. Accessories were minimal but high-impact—big blooms tied around the throat and collector-worthy reissues of Claude Lalanne’s gilded jewellery first created for Yves decades ago.