Saint Laurent continues rebellion against fashion calendar

Paris, France: It's been a year since Saint Laurent deviated from the conventional fashion calendar, and with its new collection being released as an online film on Wednesday, many are wondering whether the old schedules will ever be reinstated.

The pandemic exacerbated a pre-existing trend among major fashion houses, which questioned whether the crushing rhythm of endless fashion weeks and midseason shows was good for innovation or the environment.

Saint Laurent was the first to take the plunge, revealing in April 2020 that it will miss Paris Fashion Week that year.

And it hasn't gone anywhere, with its new winter series being released as an online short film outside of the usual timetable.

It seemed to be built to emphasize its isolation from the normal champagne-and-celebrities settings of the fashion world, with breathtaking yet desolate landscapes of black volcanic rock, ice floes, and sheer rock faces.

One might wonder if the models, many of whom were dressed in tiny miniskirts and skimpy bodysuits, had enough clothing or a high enough body mass index to live in the Arctic temperatures, but that was precisely the point.

"I want Saint Laurent to be more light and playful, but... it's not just about going out to bars and parties," designer Anthony Vaccarello told Vogue ahead of the release.

"Life can't just be when it's bad we are all in black and pajamas and when it's good we are in slutty dresses."

Nor should the moody vibe of the video be taken too literally, he added: "Fashion should be something you don't take too seriously. Especially now, when nothing is really necessary. It's good to laugh about life."


Hedi Slimane of Celine told Le Monde in January 2020, just before the pandemic: "The concept of a calendar seems to be out of date... Creating a sense of event and rarity seems more important these days than an obligatory exercise at a fixed time," he says, adding that the concept of fall/winter and spring/summer seasons is "archaic." "..

Gucci's Alessandro Michele followed Saint Laurent's lead in May 2020, announcing a reduction in display frequency from five to two per year.

In keeping with Michele's efforts to give the fabled fashion house an "anti-establishment" veneer, he made a big splash earlier this month with a 100th-anniversary display for Gucci that consciously ripped off styles from his pal, Balenciaga stylist Demna Gvasalia (he called it "hacking").

The new-found sense of freedom is "a sign that fashion is not finished and will never finish -— independently of any fashion week. Fashion is a representation of life and can self-manage." Michele told industry magazine WWD.

A growing demand 

In the first quarter of this year, sales recovered and even exceeded pre-pandemic peaks.

Asia remains the primary driver, with LVMH up 86 percent in the area over the last year and Kering up 83 percent.

No surprise, then, that Michele will present his new collection in Shanghai in the coming weeks, just as Beluti did earlier this month for its men's pret-a-porter.

It's a growing market, according to Berluti's recently departed artistic director Kris Van Assche, and it's the only one where live audiences are currently possible.

Antoine Arnault, the CEO of the firm, has just declared that it, too, will set its own calendar from now on.

Celine (part of LVMH) has already done this without much fanfare, unveiling its two most recent collections of online films that fall outside of the regular calendars.

However, not everyone agrees that fashion weeks can be dismissed too easily.

Pascal Morand, president of the French Federation of Haute Couture and Fashion, wishes for a return to the past.

"If everyone exits the system, everyone loses," he told AFP during the Paris fashion week in January.

"In the current context, there should be some guard-rails, some elements (like the official calendar) that define credibility."


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