The new Saint Laurent women’s collection Winter 2022 radiates the energy of art deco
Within the fevered imagination, lifelong devotion to art, and guarded private universe of Yves Saint Laurent, the style known as Art Deco occupied a special place. One of his earliest, most prized acquisitions for his personal collection of objects was a pair of Dunand vases originally exhibited in 1925 at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs. The modernist interiors Jean-Michel Frank designed for avant-garde patrons in the 1930s profoundly impacted how Yves decorated his Paris residence decades later. Few traces of Art Deco, however, could be found in the designer’s runway collections.
The radical elan of Art Deco permeates the Winter 2022 Saint Laurent women’s collection. The reference is not literal, informing the show more in essence and overall outline than in direct quotations. Nancy Cunard, the independent-minded activist publisher who dressed audaciously ahead of her time –giving a masculine wardrobe her own indelible imprint– served as a guiding template. Anthony Vaccarello found a way to take Cunard’s intrepid ethos and embed it resolutely in our current moment. To achieve this, signature pieces of the house take on a dramatic new shape enveloping a long fluid line underneath.
The considered silhouette is defined by tension : key Yves Saint Laurent outerwear items in denser materials morph into paletot-style coats that attenuate downward, paired with flute-like dresses in delicate fabrics. Fluttering flashes of transparency and unexpected footwear add lightness. Fresh proportions are seen throughout, as volume is shifted for a strong sloped shoulder, while a thin elongated impression is interrupted with brash, elemental jewelry : stacks of bracelets cast in silver, gold and bronze
Innovation is evident in master imitation furs produced by the same craftsmen that have worked with the house in the past, and in a new, slouchier incarnation of the Saint Laurent tuxedo. A subdued matte palette hints at a moment of reflection. Proving that restraint need not be joyless, this is a quietly poetic showing, shot through with bursts of unabashed resolve and verve.