Saint Laurent Resort 2022 Collection

Let me just say this: I don’t really know exactly how the women depicted in Anthony Vaccarello’s spring 2022 Saint Laurent collection images are living in the world, but however they are, please, please, please, just sign me up to exist the same way.

It’s free-spirited: There’s a terrific, go-with-the-flow vibe going on here, all high-waisted, floor-sweeping flares, feathers a go-go, flower power sequins, and hippie headbands; kind of Avenue Montaigne goes to Haight-Ashbury—or vice versa. It’s liberated: There’s a confident, palpable sense of sexual empowerment, with LBDs and not so little LBDs bearing all manner of cut-outs and cut-aways, breast-veiling, and other forms of transparency. (Smart of Vaccarello to showcase much of this on his long-time friend and house icon Anja Rubik, who has become a fearless advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive rights back home in her native Poland.)

Oh, and it’s absolutely impeccable: Over the last few seasons, Vaccarello has been channeling all of his scalpel sharp cutting skills of yore, often used for the tiniest of dresses, into his version of YSL’s archetypal tailoring. Consider the way he handles the sort of classique pinstripe suiting that Yves himself did back in the day. It is still as tautly and slickly sketched out as ever before, but also soft and malleable enough that a double-breasted blazer can be worn tucked into a pair of belted pleat-front pants. (Plus, can we talk about the line of those jeans by Vaccarello, as rigorously finessed here as any other piece of tailoring?)

This particular collection hasn’t had a public showing until now, but the corresponding men’s did, presented last summer in Venice, in one of those brief windows where we were traveling a bit more freely, as if the sun had suddenly popped out from behind the clouds over the Grand Canal. That show was a joyous exploration of male sexualities through some of the house’s most female-identified codes. This time round, you could argue, it’s the reverse; a mirroring of how much the identity of YSL women’s was forged through menswear. There’s definitely a heady whiff of those androgynous days when Yves Saint Laurent and muse Betty Catroux shared the same plunge-front shirted, narrow-hipped tailored approach to getting dressed.

That was back in the late ’60s/early ’70s, an era iconic to YSL, in which gender fluidity was just one way the old order (all those boring bourgeois constraints and mores) was rightly collapsing from the challenges thrown down by emancipation, counter-culture, and more bohemian ways of living. Vaccarello isn’t the type to talk endlessly about politics in his work, if ever, but politics are there, without a doubt. What he’s offering here is a clear and confident vision of dressing for a world today that’s equally in flux (and one hopefully moving towards a better future). And it resonates and crackles with the best of the past reimagined for the present.

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