A carnival awaits

Saint Laurent head to Venice for a collection of baroque romance
By Finn Blythe | Fashion | 15 July 2021

Set on the island of La Certosa, a stone’s throw from Venice’s historic Lido, Saint Laurent’s SS22 show unfolded with a dazzling spectacle of reflection and light. A temporary artwork built by US artist Doug Aitken provided the setting, made entirely from mirrors and unconventional angles, it magnified looks and provided endless alternative perspectives. Aitken specialises in this sort of optical display, having recently constructed an enormous reflective hot air balloon to sail over the skies of Massachusetts and mirror the land below. Here, his Green Lens sculpture reflected a kaleidoscopic view of the dense green foliage that filled the venue as well as the nearby water and pale pink sky above, transforming its surroundings into a liquid, living abstraction.

“Green Lens is a living artwork,” said the artist. “It is both an artwork, installation and stage. It’s like a lighthouse, that one can journey to and have a very personal experience, while it also transmits light, ideas and questions. A focal point that allows all of us to share our ideas and visions for the future post Covid…a celebration and inquiry into the future.”

Echoing the illusory architecture of the venue was a collection that wavered between sharp tailoring contours and softer, diaphanous fabrics that draped suggestively over the body to offer glimpses of exposed skin. Shirts hung open and loose, with exaggerated ruffles redolent of some bygone gothic era mixed with western styles, a mood reflected in neckties, buckled shoes that tapered towards the toe and dramatic capes that billowed across the runway like masked guests at a Venetian ball.

Jacquard looks featured prominently too, embellished with floral patterns that echoed the romantic baroque theme and paid homage to the historical surroundings. The collection’s palette was generally kept muted, with dark earthy tones to the classic Saint Laurent well-defined shoulder that ran throughout, but there were occasional explosions of dramatic colour too, an electricity provided by flashes of cobalt blue and fuchsia purple. Expanding on the romanticism of previous collections, an essential leitmotif of Vaccarello‘s vision for the house, this season bore all the pent up energy of a long-awaited return to evening venues for a night of debauchery fit for the ages.

GALLERYCatwalk looks from this show