Imprisonment, gender politics and art are all at the core of the latest Saint Laurent SS24 menswear collection.
The title of the capsule, “Yet Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves” has a layered meaning (would we expect anything less?) from creative director Anthony Vaccarello.
The line “Yet Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves” first appeared in a poem by Oscar Wilde in 1897 called “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”, which the writer penned when he was in exile, following a stint incarcerated in Reading prison.
Fast-forward to the days before the show, and Vaccarello double-downed on this theme, teasing the new show with a black and white clip from a film by Jean Genet called “Un chant d’amour”. Again, set in a prison, the film focuses on similar themes to the Wilde poem.
Through these references Vaccarello seems to be reminding us that fashion can be a critical vessel in challenging the law and the playing out of identity politics in public spaces.
So how does this manifest in Vaccarello’s collection? For menswear SS24 the designer blurs masculine and feminine shapes; there are blazers with exaggerated, structured shoulders which meet with softer curved silk shapes worn beneath. Both elements mirror structures seen in the SS24 womenswear collection from the house. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the capsule, bold, muted masculine shades are cross-referenced with playful polka dots and animal prints.
Arguably, the setting of Saint Laurent’s latest show at Neue Nationalgalerie was chosen with the same layered meaning as the title of the collection. The gallery is home to many artworks from the 20th century – from Kandinsky, Miro and Picasso to name a few – which challenged the political elites of their day, while the building was designed by Modernist champion Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who spent many years in exile in the US due to the rise of Nazism and the party’s hatred of the Modernist art and architectural movement.
Overall, the collection feels as though it is part of a vital conversation currently taking shape in both the political and social arena. One that sees traditionally feminine shapes enter the menswear stage in this latest collection for the label. For those who may question its necessity, Vaccarello provides a simple answer through the show’s references, and sets forward a collection which unpicks the status quo and boldly steps into the public space.