Breaking News

Sex and Saint Laurent in the Time of Kavanaugh

Category: Fashion & Style,Lifestyle

PARIS — Under the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower at dusk, below a row of 10 towering white palm trees reflected in the black mirror of an infinity pool, in front of rows of gawking onlookers gathered on the steps up to the Trocadero, the first model of the Saint Laurent show appeared — and began to walk on water.

Or, to be fair, to walk through it, but since it was only an inch or so deep, and she was wearing towering platform heels, it looked as if she was walking on it. In a man’s black trouser suit, a white shirt undone practically to her navel.

Welcome to the second coming of sex.

It’s been out of fashion for awhile now, but Anthony Vaccarello, Saint Laurent’s creative director, is on what seems like a mission to bring it back.

He did it with slick cigarette pants and sheer tops; transparent gypsy dresses in black and leopard chiffon, billowing in the wind; red velvet rock star jackets and gold-spangled thigh-grazing dresses. He did it with big-heeled cowboy boots, those platforms and micro shorts in leather, denim and satin. A lot of micro shorts. He did it with playsuits and plunging maillots. He did it with feather pasties.

He did it, in other words, with lots of nods to the history of YSL in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s — “different eras and timeless icons,” as he said in a news release. Those eras were, of course, the time of the Sexual Revolution, when women claimed their own carnality and reveled in it.

This is a different time, and a different kind of revolution.

There was no way for YSL to know, weeks ago when this all came together, that the show would be held in the midst of the debate over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, just after #BelieveSurvivors Monday, on the day Bill Cosby was sentenced to prison for sexual assault. And it is possible to see these clothes as a line in the sand that says women are allowed to wear whatever they want to celebrate their own bodies. As they darn well should be. One thing we know now is the “she was asking for it” argument will never fly again.

But sitting beside that watery runway, watching the models teeter by in what were effectively diaper bathing suits, it was hard not to think that as women have moved on, so should the clothes that allow them to express their physicality.

That showing the most leg, the most cleavage, the most sheer, made for a revolutionary statement back in the 20th century, but not a particularly nuanced or relevant one in the 21st. It’s why Mr. Vaccarello’s tailoring has power, but his silly pasties just seem — old-fashioned. He should think a little harder about what YSL means now, as opposed to then.

Or, as the actress Sasha Lane said in one of six videos aired before the terrific Maison Margiela show: “Don’t just be better; be different.”

And so it was. Since his first collection for Margiela in 2015, Mr. Galliano has been effectively making it his own, abstracting the deconstruction that is part of the brand’s history into a riotous statement about second chances and the reconstruction of self. He loves nothing more than throwing restraint to the winds, and this was, by those standards, a somber parade; revelation by a thousand cuts.

Starting with the basic elements of the gray suit, the black cape, the evening bustier, Mr. Galliano sliced sparingly away at the elbows, the thighs, the hip bones, letting the shine of PVC poke through, feathers escape, beige nylon underpinnings emerge, in a mere suggestion of what lay beneath. A gold brocade corset and big floral silk bow — clichés of formality — were crushed and bolted onto the torsos of both boys and girls with no discrimination made between the two; shiny vinyl leggings paired with tweed jackets.

It was as if Mr. Galliano understood that emotions are running so high at the moment, there was no need for histrionics on the runway. That this is a time when the most pressing questions are about “what’s real; what’s not real,” as he said on a podcast about the collection.

In the form of a maybe, maybe not, trench, a shadow Le Smoking, they were most elegantly exposed.


Source link

No comments