A level of inflated self-importance radiated from the designer — who managed to fabricate a collection inspired by someone else’s eminent work.
At this point last year, Ludovic de Saint Sernin was showing his opening, and infamously terminal, collection at the helm of Ann Demeulemeester. All but two months later, de Saint Sernin was dropped from the fashion house. What exactly transpired is detained tightly in the lips of those involved — except, of course, for the rumour mill which has conducted its dissension-led rounds. Regardless of what may or may not have occurred in those creative Parisian circles, it’s clear that de Saint Sernin has made the conscious decision to place his energy and focus on his namesake brand for the FW24 season.
Presenting his collection of typically raunchy garments in the backdrop of New York City for the first time, LdSS (as I’ll refer to the designer for the remainder of this piece for the ease of the reader and simultaneously to save the typing energy of myself, the writer) undertook a masterful collaboration with the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. It is perhaps due to this partnership that LdSS was enabled to generate an assemblage of clothing that can spark conversation, daring to go further than simply designing what is, at times, a rudimentary approach to the provocative.
Utilising Mapplethorpe’s work with florals as an initial jumping-off board, LdSS leaned into the delicate, gently establishing a trust-based rapport with the audience (which included Marc Jacobs). The inspirations are discernable, with Look 12’s black and silver sequined halter-neck top featuring a tulip subtracted from Mapplethorpe’s 1985 photograph Tulip and Thorn. Instead of plagiarism, the effect is one of graceful respect.
Flowing into the marketable, LdSS introduced a section not overly groundbreaking in its design, recognisable as a usual perspective on cool-girl-grunge evening and party wear. This was, of course, LdSS’ trademark tight-fitting, balanced level of exposure, and plenty of leather. The incorporation of wet-effect hair — with smokey eyes that are yet to smudge — clearly proclaims that the LdSS wearer dresses with purpose. They are not greasy or smudged as a result of error; they dress as they do to stir conversation.
And stir conversation they certainly shall, particularly if they are to don this collection's concluding act. Raw, vulnerable, and often openly pornographic, Mapplethorpe sought to question the controversial and censorable, frequently photographing the queer BDSM community within NYC in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Leather headpieces, pube-peaking leather undies, and chest-exposing gowns made from, you guessed it, leather, brought this sensual exhibit to a statuesque climax. Butt-cleavage trousers reminiscent of McQueen’s exalted bumster added a layer of sentimental respect — with LdSS’s presentation held 14 years to the day of Lee McQueen’s tragic passing. Although entirely coincidental, the inclusion demonstrated the lasting footprint McQueen has had on design.
Closing his show, one could argue a level of inflated self-importance radiated from the designer who had managed to fabricate a collection inspired by someone else’s eminent work. Periodically, one needs a moment in the spotlight, or to be the spotlight. Which, well — that depends entirely on the individual. 🌀
You can view the whole collection here.
Molly Elizabeth is a freelance fashion writer and commentator based in London.