For Saint Laurent’s Spring 2023 menswear collection, creative director Anthony Vaccarello decamped to Morocco’s Agafay Desert, about an hour away from Marrakesh, a city with great significance to the late Yves Saint Laurent, who had two homes there, most famously Villa Oasis, beside the Majorelle Garden.
The French label presented its latest offering among a star-studded front row that included part-Palestinian model Anwar Hadid, Euphoria star Dominic Fike, and Top Boy actress Razan Nassar, to name a few, who watched models circle around an otherworldly “ring of light” erected atop a circular pond of water designed by London-based artist and set designer Es Devlin.
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The show was said to be “carbon-neutral,” although no details were revealed taking into account how many guests had to fly to the location or how much waste was accrued from creating a set from scratch, etcetera; However, the brand pledged to off-set its carbon footprint and reduce its environmental impact by renting material and equipment, donating to support local associations, including women cooperatives in Marrakech that will reuse fabrics to make carpets, and irrigate olive trees in the Agafay area with the water employed in the set.
What’s more, Saint Laurent said it would plant thousands of fruit trees and install an irrigation system in the village of Achbarou; dig a water well and solar power systems in the village of Akrich, and more.
Now, lets talk about the actual collection. The Belgian designer was inspired by Paul Bowles’ 1949 novel The Sheltering Sky, for the offering, which served as a tribute to Saint Laurent’s well-documented love for Marrakech, which he first discovered in 1966 and became a refuge for him from his busy life in Paris. The show also coincided with the “Love” exhibition in Évora, Portugal, which spotlights the late Algeria-born couturier’s relationship with neighboring Morocco.
As for the clothes themselves, Vaccarello made it a point to avoid using local motifs in a cliché and stereotypical way, save for occasional djellaba-like shirts. Instead, the collection was punctuated with sharply tailored trench coats, tuxedos, silk shirting, and high-waisted trousers that “elegantly dissolves the line between what constitutes a ‘masculine’ wardrobe and what makes clothes ‘feminine,’” as per the show notes. Elegant and timeless, the collection was a refreshing and welcome departure from the tired streetstyle-inspired offerings taking over the men’s runways lately. Let’s hope more brands will follow, pardon the pun, suit.