Patrick Michael Hughes Senior Fashion Editor Men's Fashion Writer
Ludovic de Saint Sernin's 'Mirage' for Spring /Summer 2023 marks the fifth year anniversary for the unapologetic, sexy and identity affirming brand. Fashion has been having a nostalgic moment musing nineteen seventies playful sexual mythology. It has a younger, fresher diversity this time and its in line with modern gender inflections.
Mirage' was true to Ludovic de Saint Sernin reputation and brand for bare, willowy youthful bodies, wearing fluid pieces. The collection was more than a nod but a semi tribute to the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe's (1945-1989) personal style, ikebana photography and sexual life. Mapplethorpe is a good connection for this atelier. A thought provoking creative lens and connection to creative male identify. The setting of de Saint Sernin's shows have often been staged in a round single spotlight frame this the it was a large parabolic strobe umbrella a modern photography studio statement.
At the five year mark of Ludovic de Saint Sernin has shown tremendous growth as a fashion house and noteworthy brand on the the Paris Fashion stage. The Balmain alumus and 2018 LVMH Finalist consistently presents a polished, almost minimalist artistic runway collections and presentations. It began with his debut collection of Fall/Winter 2018 'The Persistence of Memory ' inspired by Salvador Dali looked to muse the great artist and fashion from the past and current memory. The collection highlighted surrealist touches and styling. There was an en deshabille sensibility to the clothing on that has never left. His debut collection also had touches of Paris based American designer Rick Owens and Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaïa, a fashion force he looked to create some of his best play on drape and wrapping the body.
The opening look for Fall of 2019 paid homage to Yves Saint Laurent with a ceramic body cast. This is a tremendously French guild tradition in fashion designers and fashion houses. The cannon of honoring the master, following the couture heritage in fashion is not new.The informed fashion eye can reveal clear design connections to other ateliers. Historically, its easily traced in current vocabularies in the ateliers of Givenchy, Dior, Balmain to Slimane.
The torso, wide shoulders and emphasis on the waist are the designer's silhouette focuses. de Saint Sernin's collections have grown into an identifiable style with a details and silhouette vocabulary. The client is looking for surprising and continues seasonal partnerships within the independent ascending artist and companies such as Austrian based Swarovski. One of the driving forces behind the brand is of bold statement embellishment form singular statement items to waistbands of underwear. Embellishment is part of the heritage sensibility and branding of Balmain.
From the time of de Saint Sernin collection debuted it was a bit of 'the shock of the new', highlighting the known in a such a provocative way. The reaction was a bit of a collective gasp at how minimal fashion leaning into bare was being presented, He was hailed as the new hope for the return of minimal fashion. His fashion statement was a line on the ground, as to how a generation was going to own its sexual empowerment and make that statement frankly and simply. The look is sensual with a bit of kink like what Tom Ford did for Gucci and the fashion world, during the nineteen nineties. The brand has emerged as a commentary and statement on the best of fashion seen through the eyes of non gender conforming clothing.
De Saint Sernin achieved one of the most iconic, silhouettes with a pair trousers far out shining the crop of emerging designers showing in London and New York. “Summertime Sadness“ Spring 2019 recalled not only the end of a Summer and unfulfilled fantasies. The collection also saw glimpses Paco Rabanne and the season's common theme of engineered textiles. Experimenting with textile non-traditional materials to find new patterns in fragmented shapes opens new possibilities in garment construction. His design in this genre was a highlight of an exciting and successful third season. It was clear what the brand's vocabulary was going to be who his rapidly rising community of followers love.
The Spring 2020 collection was social media censored. The title 'Wet’n’Wild' was too much for the French fashion establishment. The first look on the runway located alongside a conceptual pool at the Centre Pompidou was a wet male model in a completely see-through white organza suit. The silhouette recalls the age of the Dandy of the early nineteenth century as well as an attenuated tailored seams of Christian Dior.
The Spring Summer 2021's 'E-Boy' style took center stage. It is a popular 2010 Gen Z a mall style with origins in Japanese street fashion and cosplay subculture craze spread through social media outlets of Instagram and Tik Toc. The provided the ideal platform to create an in the know a brand identification using his initials LdSS.
De Saint Sernin's client would understand the code as well that season's stripes, crops tops, as well as the brand's first denim jeans styled with lace up crotches and shoe laces at the waist. It was also a strong take on the re-thing of iconic sports attire in metal mesh, a suble nod to the work of Gianni Versace . However, the men's designer laid claim to 'the bandage style' an inclusive fashion love letter to Herve Leger. The season's campaign was photographed by Willy Vanderperre and some images De Saint Sernin's boyfriend was a model.
De Saint Sernin has crafted a great deal of his brand's success on the power of visual fantasy. He has even curated an active image community of his clients wearing his brand swimwear and underwear posed in the manner of old school arthouse porn.
The designer currently collaborates with Matt Lambert a cutting edge Berlin-based filmmaker, creative director and fashion photographer to produce an X rated film and an extensive campaign in partnership with Pornhub. Their recent August 2022 project paid homage to the one hundred year history of outdoor Gay cruising and FKK culture (frei-körper-kultur - 'free body culture') in Berlin. The sexy bare sexual body ownership movement has developed strong legions of new generation. the brands Spring/Summer 2022 campaign included beautifully black and white nudes featuring Fernando Lindez the male model of the year 2022 from Spain photographed by Willy Vanderperre.
The title of the Spring 2023 collection, 'Mirage' is reflective of how honored the designer is to be still able to create fashion in the fashion industry. He is moving forward with a strong presence of his core gender fluid clothing and has expanded many more womanly dresses and sheer creative forms lending to goddess. The designer began creating more looks for women after 2018 when his fan base was coveted by women celebrities such as Kim Kardashian who wore his now collection staple ripped jeans. The finish of the denim is an example of de Saint Sernin attention to detail and a successful experiments in textile.
His pleated knitwear has been compared to Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake's plissé is tremendously popular with all gender identities.'Mirage' continues to add to De Saint Sernin new versions of the skirts is the introduction of new icons such as American popular icon, Britney Jean Spears. The eyelet brief and thong with string leather ties is one of the brand’s iconic items as well as swimwear. The inclusion of Anthurium the tropical hibiscus symbolizing long lasting was a excellent touch.
IRK looks forward to many more Ludovic de Saint Sernin's tasteful and provocative muse and connections to brand's core audience. It's a wonderful glimpse into a highly creative and inclusive point of view.