Saint Laurent don’t care if something looks masculine or feminine. Or maybe they care so much that like any good artist, they had to blur the lines between them to create something new. Or is that even too simple? Saint Laurent’s fall/winter 2023 menswear collection isn’t new for the Maison (how do you think they remain so cool?), but it is built from a philosophy that many other brands haven’t encapsulated as well.
Creative Director, Anthony Vaccarello, said that he wanted to show men and women as “almost one person.” He added, “So women could be the men, and the men could be the women. No difference. I want more and more to put them at the same level. No distinction.”
What we see in the show is a lot of narrow coats, black leather, velvet, exaggerated necks, and chest-revealing silk shirts.
In the 1960s, YSL made womenswear based on menswear, in 2023, the process has been reversed. Though a reversal might be too simple of a word. These aren’t just pieces of womenswear fitted onto men or a typical blurring of the lines. These aren’t just men in skirts. Philosophically, this is a rethink of gender and clothes. You can’t simply point at a lot of these looks and say, “That part is menswear, and that part is womenswear.” It’s almost something new. These looks aren’t neutral by evoking shapeless cuts or anything like that. Perhaps these are truly what Vaccarello has said, there’s “no distinction.” A man or a woman could wear these looks and you wouldn’t lose or gain anything. Somehow, these almost feel like simply clothes without gender.
Not all of the looks achieve this with the same amount of success – some do actively look like womenswear, like the sheer tops, but even then, after taking a second look you might reconsider.
The collection makes you think without shoving it down your throat with a campaign short film with heavy themes that feels somewhat disconnected from the looks actively shown in the show. You don’t have to ask, “How does this play with gender?” It simply shows you.
Like any good piece of art, the rule is show don’t tell, and Saint Laurent has certainly done that.